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Sediment connectivity, i.e. the degree of linkage that controls sediment fluxes throughout landscape, and, in particular, between sediment sources and downstream areas, is a key issue in the study of sediment transfer processes in mountainous catchments.
The index of sediment connectivity IC is a distributed geomorphometric index that can be easily derived from a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). IC is intended to represent the linkage between different parts of the catchment and aims, in particular, at evaluating the potential connection between hillslopes and features of interest (e.g. catchment outlet, main channel network, a given cross section along the channel) or elements acting as storage areas (sinks) for transported sediment (e.g., lake, retention basin).


  • Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) of the pilot area in high-resolution.


For the selected geographic area:
  • a realistic spatial characterization of sediment connectivity, highlighting the role of the alluvial fans in conditioning connectivity of upstream catchment: the model provides a rapid spatial characterization of sediment dynamics in a complex and large mountain watersheds;
  • using different impedance factors leads to different IC patterns;
The proposed sediment connectivity appears slightly dependent from DTM resolution, whereas a strong dependency on catchment size is observed, mainly due to the downslope component of the index. This result suggests that the model can be used to compare quantitatively only catchments of similar size.


The connectivity tool has been implemented through the Model Builder application running in ArcGIS 10.1 (ESRI 2012), and it uses functionalities and algorithms available in TauDEM 5.2 tool.

Software: ESRI ARCGIS 10.1

For further information please vist the "SedAlp" project website

Successful experiences in the ASP

» Application of GIS-based sediment connectivity model in the Venosta Valley.pdf

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