Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Earth, Environmental and Geospatial Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Yuri Gorokhovich


As the urban population is expected to grow in the coming decades, there is pressure on urban areas to expand to accommodate this growth. Often times, these expansions are not sustainable, they consume valuable lands and cause significant environmental, social, and economic burdens, a theory which is known as urban sprawl. Therefore it is often imperative to model areas more likely to urbanize in order for cities to plan for their expansion in the most sustainable way possible. Nashville, Tennessee located within Davidson County is an area that has been experiencing a significant period of urban growth. The objective of this case study is to model the urban expansion of Davidson County in Tennessee for the period of 2017-2040 using a cellular automata model known as the SLEUTH model. Historical imagery of slope, land use, excluded areas, transportation, and hillshade of Davidson County for 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016 were collected and used to calibrate the SLEUTH model to simulate urban growth for the period of 2017-2040. The urban area for 2016 was 119.81 mi2 and from the SLEUTH model is said to increase to 121.90 mi2 for 2040. The urbanization rate during the historical time period (2001-2016) is 11.11% but the SLEUTH model predicts a much slower urbanization rate during the simulated time period (2017-2040) of 1.59%. This study shows how beneficial the SLEUTH model can be in modeling future urban growth but highlights a need to model more accurately development within intra urban areas as well as vertical urbanization within already densely urban regions.



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