Potential Erosion Risk Calculation Using Remote Sensing and GIS in Oued El Maleh Watershed, Morocco


Oued El Maleh watershed is considered the largest ocean basin of the Chaouia-Ouardigha region in Morocco. Severe flooding occurred in 1996, 2001 and 2002 in the watershed. Thus, significant economic and human damage has been caused. The floods of Mohammedia city, located in the outlet of the watershed, were due to the silting of the Oued El Maleh dam which has lost its ability to retain water. This work, therefore, aims to assess soil losses by water erosion in the Oued El Maleh watershed through modeling main factors involved in water erosion. The methodology used is based on the use of the universal soil loss equation (USLE). The model includes the following factors: soil erodibility, the inclination of slopes, the rainfall erosivity, vegetation cover and erosion control practices. The aggressiveness of rainfall was calculated for a number of stations bordering the study area and interpolated across the watershed using geostatistical model. Soil erodibility was extracted from soil map and soil survey. The effect of topography was approached by combining the degree of slope and slope length using a digital elevation model (ASTER) and ArcHydrology extension (ArcGIS). The vegetation cover was derived from Landsat image ETM through the supervised classification method. The index of erosion control practices was approached by field visits. All factors have been measured and integrated into a geographic information system which enabled us to spatialize the degree of sediment production at the watershed scale in a synthetic map. The annual soil loss is 8.21 t/ha/yr and the soil loss classification shows that surfaces affected by high erosion are equivalent to 10% of the watershed. Furthermore, this map is available to support land managers policy makers in the process of decision making related to soil conservation, infrastructure and citizens’ property protection.

Share and Cite:

Lahlaoi, H. , Rhinane, H. , Hilali, A. , Lahssini, S. and Khalile, L. (2015) Potential Erosion Risk Calculation Using Remote Sensing and GIS in Oued El Maleh Watershed, Morocco. Journal of Geographic Information System, 7, 128-139. doi: 10.4236/jgis.2015.72012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Lal, R. (1998) Soil Erosion Impact on Agronomic Productivity and Environment Quality: Critical Reviews. Plant Sciences, 17, 319-464.
[2] Parveen, R. and Kumar, U. (2012) Integrated Approach of Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and Geographical Information System (GIS) for Soil Loss Risk Assessment in Upper South Koel Basin, Jharkhand. Journal of Geographic Information System, 4, 588-596.
[3] Apusiga Adongo, T., Kugbe, J.X. and Gbedzi, V.D. (2014) Siltation of the Reservoir of Vea Irrigation Dam in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region, Ghana. International Journal of Science and Technology, 4, 2224-3577.
[4] Sharma, R., Sahai, B. and Karale, R.L. (1985) Identification of Erosion Prone Areas in Part of the Ukai Catchment. Proceedings of the Sixth Asian Conference of the Remote Sensing, Hyderabad, India, November 1985, 121-126.
[5] Bunyasi, M.M., Onywere, S.M. and Kigomo, M.K. (2013) Sustainable Catchment Management: Assessment of Sedimentation of Masinga Reservoir and Its Implication on the Dam’s Hydropower Generation Capacity. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 9, 166-179.
[6] Celik, I., Aydin, M. and Yazici, U. (1996) A Review of the Erosion Control Studies During the Republic Period in Turkey. In: Kapur, S., Ak?a, E., Eswaran, H., Kelling, G., Vita-Finzi, Mermut, A.R. and Ocal, A.D., Eds., 1st International Conference on Land Degradation, Adana, Turkey, 10-14 June 1996, 175-180.
[7] Boussema, M.R. (1996) Système d’Information pour la Conservation et la Gestion des Ressources Naturelles. Colloque international sur le r?le des technologies de télécommunications et de l’information en matière de protection de l’environnement, Tunis, 17-19 avril 1996.
[8] Chebbani, R., Djilli, K. and Roose, E. (1999) Etude des Risques d’Erosion dans le Bassin Versant de l’Isser, Algérie. Bulletin Réseau Erosion, 19, 85-95.
[9] Chevalier, J.J. Pouliot, J., Thomson, K. and Boussema, M.R. (1995) Systèmes d’Aide à la Planification Pour la Conservation des Eaux et des Sols (Tunisie). Systèmes d’Information Géographique Utilisant les Données de Télédétection. Actes du colloque scientifique international, Hammamet, Tunisie, 1-2 Novembre 1994, 4-12.
[10] Lahlou, A. (1977) Specific Degradation of Watershed in Morocco. Report n° 1000, Ministry of Equipment and National Promotion, Water Direction, Exploitation Division, Water Management Service, Rabat, 1977.
[11] Ait Fora, A. (1995) Modélisation Spatiale de l’Erosion Hydrique dans un Bassin Versant du Rif Marocain: Validation de l’Approche Géomatique par la Sédimentologie, les Traceurs Radio-Actifs et la Susceptibilité Magnétique des Sédiments. Ph.D. Thesis, Sherbrooke University, Quebec.
[12] Mhirit, O. and Benchekroun, F. (2006) Les Ecosystèmes Forestiers Marocains: Situation, Enjeux et Perspectives Pour 2025. Rapport sur le Développement Humain au Maroc, Rabat.
[13] Tahri, M., Merzouk, A., Lamb, H.F. and Maxted, R.W. (1993) Etude de l’Erosion Hydrique dans le Plateau d’Imelchil dans le Haut Atlas Central. Utilisation d’un SIG. Geo Observateur, 3, 51-60.
[14] Merzouki, T. (1992) Diagnostic de l’envasement des grands barrages marocains. Revue marocaine du génie civil, 38, 46-50.
[15] High Commission for Water, Forest and Combating Desertification (1996) National Watershed Management Plan.
[16] Chalrhami, H. (2014) Analysis of Anthropogenic Impacts on Achach Forest Degradation on Central Plateau, Morocco. International Journal of Latest Research in Science and Technology, 3, 176-180.
[17] Wischmeier, W.H. and Smith, D.D. (1960) An Universal Soil Loss Estimating Equation to Guide Conservation Farm Planning. 7th International Congress of Soil Sciences, 418-425.
[18] Boggs, G., Devonport, C., Evans, K. and Puig, P. (2001) GIS-Based Rapid Assessment of Erosion Risk in a Small Catchment in the Wet/Dry Tropics of Australia. Land Degradation & Development, 12, 417-434. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ldr.457
[19] Cerri, C.E.P., Dematte, J.A.M., Ballester, M.V.R., Martinelli, L.A., Victoria, R.L. and Roose, E. (2001) GIS Erosion Risk Assessment of the Piracicaba River Basin, Southeastern Brazil. Mapping Sciences and Remote Sensing, 38, 157-171.
[20] Shakesby, R.A., Coelho, C.O.A., Schnabel, S., Keizer, J.J., Clarke, M.A., Contador, J.F.L., Walsh, R.P.D., Fereira, A.J.D. and Doerr, S.H. (2002) A Ranking Methodology for Assessing Relative Erosion Risk and Its Application to Dehesas and Montados in Spain and Portugal. Land Degradation & Development, 13, 129-140. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ldr.488
[21] Vrieling, A., Sterk, G. and Beaulieu, N. (2002) Erosion Risk Mapping: A Methodological Case Study in the Colombian Eastern Plains. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 57, 158-163.
[22] Wischmeier, W.H. and Smith, D.D. (1978) Predicting Rainfall Erosion Losses: A Guide to Conservation Planning. Science, US Department of Agriculture Handbook, No. 537, Washington DC.
[23] Arnoldus, H.M.J. (1980) An Approximation of the Rainfall Factor in the Universal Soil Loss équation. In: De Boodt, M. and Gabriels, D., Eds., Assessment of Erosion, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 127-132.
[24] Renard, K.G., Foster, G.R., Weesies, G.A., McCool, D.K. and Yoder, D.C. (1997) Predicting Soil Erosion by Water: A Guide to Conservation Planning with the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). US Department of Agriculture Handbook, No. 703, Washington DC, 1-251.
[25] Wischmeier, W.H. and Smith, D.D. (1978) Predicting Rainfall Erosion Losses: A Guide to Conservation Planning. Science, US Department of Agriculture Handbook, No. 537, Washington DC.
[26] Bizuwerk, A., Taddese, G. and Getahun, Y. (2008) Application of GIS for Modeling Soil Loss Rate in Awash Basin, Ethiopia. International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
[27] Karydas, C.G., Sekuloska, T. and Silleos, G.N. (2009) Quantification and Site-Specification of the Support Practice Factor When Mapping Soil Erosion Risk Associated with Olive Plantations in the Mediterranean Island of Crete. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 149, 19-28.
[28] Prasannakumar, V., Vijith, H., Abinod, S. and Geetha, N. (2012) Estimation of Soil Erosion Risk within a Small Mountainous Sub-Watershed in Kerala, India, Using Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) and Geo-Information Technology. Geoscience Frontiers, 3, 209-215.
[29] Fadil, A., Rhinane, H., Kaoukaya, A., Kharchaf, Y. and Bachir, O.A. (2011) Hydrologic Modeling of the Bouregreg Watershed (Morocco) Using GIS and SWAT Model. Journal of Geographic Information System, 3, 279-289. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jgis.2011.34024
[30] Renschler, C.S., Mannaerts, C. and Diekkruger, B. (1999) Evaluating Spatial and Temporal Variability in Soil Erosion Risk—Rainfall Erosivity and Soil Loss Ratios in Andalusia, Spain. CATENA, 34, 209-225. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0341-8162(98)00117-9
[31] Angima, S.D., Stott, D.E., O’Neill, M.K., Ong, C.K. and Weesies, G.A. (2003) Soil Erosion Prediction Using RUSLE for Central Kenyan Highland Conditions. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 97, 295-308. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8809(03)00011-2
[32] ESRI (2008) Arc GIS Software of ESRI.
[33] Sadiki, A., Faleh, A., Zezera, J.L. and Mastas, H. (2009) Quantification de l’Erosion en Nappes dans le Bassin Versant de l’Oued Sahla-Rif Central Maroc. Cahiers Géographiques, 6, 59.
[34] Bouqdaoui, K. (2007) Approche Méthodologique de l’Evaluation du Risque Potentiel d’Erosion des Sols du Bassin Versant d’Oued Srou à l’Aide de la Télédétection et du SIG. PhD Thesis, University of Mohamed V, Rabat.

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.