Despite increasing efforts in the mapping of landslides using Sentinel-1 and -2, research on their combination for discerning historical landslides in forest areas is still lacking, particularly using object-oriented machine learning approaches. This study was accomplished to test the efficiency of Sentinel-derived features and digital elevation model (DEM) derivatives for mapping old and new landslides, using object-oriented random forest. Two forest subsets were selected including a protected and non-protected forest in northeast Iran. Landslide samples were obtained from CORONA images and aerial photos (old landslides), and also field mensuration and high-resolution images (new landslides). Segment objects were generated from a set combination of Sentinel-1A, Sentinel-2A, and some topographic-derived indices using multiresolution segmentation algorithm. Various object features were derived from the main channels of Sentinel images and DEM derivatives in the seven main groups, including spectral layers, spectral indices, geometric, contextual, textural, topographic, and hydrologic features. A single database was created, including landslide samples and Sentinel- and DEM-derived object features. Roughly 20% of landslide-affected objects and non-landslide-affected objects were randomly selected as an input for training the random forest classifier. Two-thirds of the selected objects were assigned as learning samples for classification, and the remainder were used for testing the accuracy of landslide and non-landslide classification. Results indicated that: (1) The sensitivity of mapping historical landslides was 86.6% and 80.3% in the protected and non-protected forests, respectively; (2) the object features of Sentinel-2A and DEM obtained the highest importance with the total scores of 55.6% and 32%, respectively in the protected forests, and 65.4% and 21% respectively in the non-protected forests; (3) the features derived from the combination of Sentinel-1 and -2A demonstrated a total importance of 10% for mapping new landslides; and (4) textural features were obtained in approximately two-thirds of the total scores for mapping new landslides, however a combination of topographic, spectral, textural, and contextual features were the effective predictors for mapping old landslides. This research proposes applying a synergetic analysis of Sentinel- and DEM-derived features for mapping historical landslides; however, there are no uniformly pre-defined influential variables for mapping historical landslides in different forest areas.
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