The SLEUTH model, also known as the Clarke Cellular Automata Urban Growth Model or as the Clarke Urban Growth Model, is intended to simulate urban growth in order to aid in understanding of how expanding urban areas consume their surrounding land, and the environmental impact this has on the local environment. SLEUTH derives its name from the six types of data inputs: slope, land use, urban, exclusion, transportation, and hill shading. SLEUTH is calibrated using these types of historical data. It produces forecasts of land use change from a local to regional scale.

This model simulates the transition from non-urban to urban land-use using cellular automata. This body of methods generates dynamic spatial patterns by applying growth rules to a grid of cells, each of whose land-use state is dependent upon local factors (e.g. roads, existing urban areas, topography), temporal factors, and random factors. Additionally other, non-urban land use transitions (such as range land to agricultural land) can be simulated assuming urbanization is the driver. Annual maps of forecasted change are generated allowing for animated display of forecasts over time as well as integration in GIS databases for further spatial analyses.

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For Application Domains

Land Use Planning

Decision Problem Types Targeted

Impact Assessment

Status Assessment

Domain Knowledge Modeling Area

Land Use Change

Urban Growth Modeling

Planning And Decision Process Phases/Steps Served

Scenario Simulation And Comparison


Methods And Techniques Implemented

Cellular Automata

Input Type

Spatial Dataset

Input Data Format


Output Type

Map Image

Text Document

Output Data Format

Image File (.Gif)

Text File (.TXT)



Unix Variant

Description Of System Components


Scientific Expertise Level Required

Some Scientific Background

Technical Expertise Level Required

Some Computer/GIS Programming Skills

Online Download Available

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Development Status

Regularly Distributed

Contact Person

Keith Clarke

Parent Categories

Software Tools And Models - All

Spatial Decision Support Tools


- Concurrently simulates four types of growth (spontaneous, diffusive, organic, and road-influenced)
- Provides both graphical and statistical outputs.
- Incorporates momentum of booms and busts using threshold multiplier with
subsequent temporal decay.
- Allows for relatively simple alternative scenario projection.

The model does not explicitly deal with population, policies and economic impacts on land use change, except in terms of growth around roads or those that can be expressed in permissive/controlled growth zoning.

Last Updated


Software Type

Spatial Decision Support Tools

Model Type

Simulation Models

Decision Process Activity Types Served

Decision Alternatives Generation, Scenario Simulation


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