Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. David Dickason

Second Advisor

Dr. Gregory Veck

Third Advisor

Dr. Jeroen Wagendorp

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Urban sprawl is a common American problem that has continued unabated throughout the last six decades. The pattern of urban sprawl in many metropolitan areas of Michigan is typical for much of the United States. Urban sprawl has been recognized as a major social problem in Michigan since the beginning of the 1990's. However, few studies measure urban sprawl by utilizing land cover information.

This research is a temporally comparative study that concentrates on changing patterns of "land cover" (the way land is covered by natural or human activities) from 1978 to 1996 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The study focuses on nine townships within Kalamazoo County. The city of Kalamazoo is at the center of this region and is the core from which urban sprawl has been expanding outward. This research utilizes detailed aerial photographic classified land cover information from 1978 and 1996. GIS analysis was utilized to subdivide the region by zones of proximity to estimate the areas of each land cover type. Two types of proximity zones were created - one from the center for the city of Kalamazoo and another along the arterial roads.

The study supports the contention that a land cover analysis approach can be used to define urban sprawl at lower level than the parcel studies which one typically calculate.

Included in

Geography Commons