Landslides are significant geological hazards that are often difficult to predict, similar to other natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and typhoons because they are uncertain with potentially negative consequences. Landslide is a physical occurrence that involves an extensive range of ground motions, including rock falls, slope failure, and debris flow. It refers to the downhill sliding of large amounts of landmass over steep slopes, and it can be quick or gradual. Landslides occur due to slope instability and it includes all types of slope failures in earth materials caused by gravity. The slope uncertainty can be induced by various factors, for example, earthquakes, flash floods, volcanic eruptions, and excess precipitation. It can also occur due to human activity such as mining, grading, and terrain cutting. In general, a landslide can travel by 3.260 feet per second (Pudasaini & Krautblatter, 2021). Landslides also affect the world’s ecological settings (Sim et al., 2022), it surplus sediments that can damage streams and waterbodies. Moreover, Landslides can have an impact on key ecological factors such as temperature, soil, and water. Landslides cause forests deterioration, animal habitat vanishing, and remove productive soils from slopes in terms of their ecological properties.
Earthquakes are the most common source of landslides (Yan et al., 2021). The Azad Kashmir region is extremely prone to landslides, which are mainly caused by earthquakes. Therefore, it is essential to research in this region. Historically, numerous land sliding incidents happened in Azad Kashmir but two devastating events that occurred in the recent two decades caught the author's attention. The Kashmir earthquake occurred on October 8, 2005, and it was the second most devastating earthquake in the history of Pakistan. It has an intensity of 7.6 Mw magnitudes and triggered thousands of landslides, mostly rock falls and rock slides, in the central area near the cities of Muzaffarabad and Balakot, Pakistan (Huang et al., 2021). The land sliding induced by the Kashmir earthquake caused numerous casualties and destruction to infrastructure. The Mirpur, Azad Kashmir earthquake that happened on September 24, 2019, with a magnitude of 5.6 Mw, also triggered several hundred landslides.
Presently, landslides can be monitored by enhanced mapping techniques and other systematic measures such as remote sensing satellite products and GIS expertise. Remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies with their excellent spatial data process efficiency have attracted great attention in natural disaster assessment applications (Osako, 2021). In terms of spatial landslide analysis, GIS is an important tool to carry out remote sensing data input, handling, visualization, combination, query, and analysis. GIS is an essential tool for geo-hazards assessment. The significant capability of GIS is to interoperate the dynamic spatial data of ground elevation, soil properties, and slope for landslide hazard assessment (Mahmoody Vanolya & Jelokhani-Niaraki, 2021). Remote sensing and GIS were together used for landslide susceptibility assessment and the construction of a landslide prediction model (Z. Wang et al., 2021; Zhang et al., 2020).
There are various assessment models discussed by previous researchers conferred to landslide hazard assessment such as the Weights-of-evidence model (Sifa et al., 2020) and the susceptibility model based on cumulative frequency. The Weights-of-evidence model is one of the bivariate methods to calculate the weight for each landslide predicting factor that is dependent on the existence or absence of the landslide within the defined area (Bopche & Rege, 2022).
Furthermore, different methods such as AHP (Panchal & Shrivastava, 2021), Heuristic, Probabilistic, simple statistical bivariate, regression, and deterministic models have been used by the researchers. In a variety of case studies, meaningful findings were obtained using AHP (Meghanadh et al., 2022; Moragues et al., 2021; Roccati et al., 2021) and Weights-of-evidence models with high accuracy and reliability (Xu et al., 2021).
Muzaffarabad is a landslide-susceptible region due to its rugged terrain, topography, climatic conditions, location on an earthquake fault zone, geology, and geomorphology. This research work is aimed to identify the level of vulnerability and the potential landslide hazards sites in Muzaffarabad that will be helpful for future land sliding events. An AHP-based analysis is being adopted to compute landslide susceptibilities and their impacts with the progress of prior research and ongoing initiatives.
For this purpose, the existing system and literature have been reviewed thoroughly. The scope of the study can be evaluated by (i) review of previous studies and related published articles (ii) interpretation of satellite images and geological maps (iii) preparation of landslide maps inventory (iv) evaluation of hazard and risk assessment of identified landslide zones (v) Modernized Landslide hazard susceptibility map for Muzaffarabad. This research work is significant as it contributes to the identification of the landslide hazard zone map of Muzaffarabad for future use. It also provides a methodology for implementation of the AHP model using Weighted overlay analysis in ArcMap spatial analyst and model builder tools.