Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Mathematical Sciences; Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Besides the dangers of an actively burning wildfire, a plethora of other hazardous consequences can occur afterwards. Debris flows are among the most hazardous of these, being known to cause fatalities and extensive damage to infrastructure. Although debris flows are not exclusive to fire affected areas, a wildfire can increase a location’s susceptibility by stripping its protective covers like vegetation and introducing destabilizing factors such as ash filling soil pores to increase runoff potential. Due to the associated dangers, researchers are developing statistical models to isolate susceptible locations. Existing models predominantly employ the logistic regression algorithm; however, previous studies have shown that the relationship between the predictors and response is likely better predicted using nonlinear modeling. We therefore propose the use of nonlinear C5.0 decision tree algorithm, a simple yet robust algorithm that uses inductive inference for categorical data modelling. It employs a tree-like decision making system that makes conditional statements to split data into homogeneous classes. Our results showed the C5.0 approach to produce stable and higher validation metrics in comparison to the logistic regression. A sensitivity of 81% and specificity of 78% depicts improved predictive capability and gives credence to the hypothesis that data relationships are likely nonlinear.

Publisher's Statement

Copyright 2019 The Author(s). Article deposited here in compliance with publisher policies. Publisher's version of record:

Publication Title

Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Publisher's PDF



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.