An approach for quantifying geomorphological impacts for EIA of transportation infrastructures: a case study in northern Spain

J. Bonachea, V.M. Bruschi, J. Remondo, A. Alberto Gonzales-Diez, L. Salas, J. Bertens, A. Cendrero, C. Otero, C. Giusti, A.G. Fabbri, J.R. Gonzalez-Lastra, J.R. Aramburu

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A methodological proposal for the assessment of impacts due to linear infrastructures such as motorways, railways, etc. is presented. The approach proposed includes a series of specific issues to be addressed for each geomorphological feature analysed - both 'static' and 'dynamic'- as well as a series of steps to be followed in the process. Geomorphic characteristics potentially affected were initially identified on the basis of a conceptual activities/impacts model that helps to single out geomorphic impacts related to environmental concerns for the area. The following issues were addressed for each individual impact: nature of potential effects; indicators that can be used to measure impacts; criteria of 'geomorphologic performance'; procedure for measurement/prediction of changes; translation of geomorphologic impacts into significant terms from the viewpoint of human concerns; possible mitigation and/or compensation measures. The procedure has been applied to a case study corresponding to a new motorway in the Basque Country, northern Spain. Geomorphological impacts considered in this analysis included: (1) consumable resources; (2) sites of geomorphological interest; (3) land units with high potential for use, high productivity or value for conservation; (4) visual landscape; (5) slope instability processes. The procedure has been designed for implementation in a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment. Details are given on the application of the method to each individual impact analysed and results are presented in both numerical and map form. Impacts assessed were initially expressed by means of heterogeneous magnitudes, depending on the geomorphological feature considered. Those geomorphological impacts were then translated into significant terms and homogeneous magnitudes. Integration was carried out on the basis of impact values thus obtained. Final integrated results were also expressed in numerical and map form. The method proposed enables comparison of alternatives as well as 'prediction' and assessment of impacts in terms directly related to geomorphic characteristics. It also facilitates the expression of those impacts in terms that allow integration with other types of environmental impacts. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-117
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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