Thème : River (channel) networks Analyses and Simulations

Licence : Logiciel libre (freeware)

Système d’exploitation : Windows, Macintosh, Linux…


Welcome to the official Webpage of the SSM (Self-Similarity Map) software.

SSM has been developed at INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) in the AMAP laboratory (botAnique et bioinforMatique de l’Architecture des Plantes, France) since 2005, then in the ecology department at IFP (Institut Français de Pondicherry, India) since 2010.

SSM is a convenient tool dedicated to researchers of environmental sciences, to water resource managers and for education purposes. On the one hand, SSM is able to analyze any observed channel network to quantify its geometry and its topology (to finally infer the most probable drivers of it). On the other hand, SSM provides a simulation tool based on OCN modelling in order to compute confidence levels on observed networks as well as to simulate new (virtual and realistic) river networks.



Principle and software handling

The two main properties of the SSM software are: i) the spatial characterization of a vector-mode river network; and ii) the simulation of neutral models for the same river network. SSM is manipulating streams (polylines) to compute several classic and less used indicators to quantify the channel network properties: Among others, it provides a stream length map, a network density map, a distance to the outlet map, a cumulated surface map, a width function, a sinuosity map, a (stream length) fractal dimension map and the corresponding fractal estimations. It allows to export all results in Jpeg and Ascii formats for further analyses.

SSM needs two different inputs for its functioning: an initial river network in Shapefile format (vector mode of GIS) and, whenever available, the boundaries of the associated watershed (in Shapefile too). The user has to load this (or these two) shapefile(s) and then to decide in the main menu which property should be computed. SSM software then allows to compute OCN simulations (neutral model based on the observed channel network) to compute confidence levels on any property (index) or to get a virtual sample of channel networks. The user then comes back to any computation to improve or constrain it by a new parameterization, and to finally save it in various format for further analyses or for publication.


The SSM software is open-source (Cecill-C licence). Thanks to its flexible and optimized architecture, it is user-friendly to integrate additional properties (on geometry or topology) to be computed, with various questions in mind. These new properties will all benefit from the OCN simulation to estimate their associated confidence levels. Researchers and engineers in environmental sciences are welcome to use and develop the SSM software, and to kindly cite it in their documents.

SSM has been developed first with Matlab® routines by Cédric Gaucherel and Ludovic Salomon, and has been recently transformed into a free, coherent and open source software with Java® by Bastien Rouy, helped by Romain Frelat (thanks to all!). Several case studies are illustrating the SSM methodology in the author’s publications.


Here, you may find SSM files.

Zip files also contain a sample of input data to be used with the Software.

Just click on Setup-SSM- file to instal the Windows version of the SSM platform. Any enquiry about the software should to be sent to C. Gaucherel.

Short SSM Bibliography

SSM References

  • Gaucherel, C., Salomon, L., Labonne, J., Variable self-similar sinuosity properties within simulated river networks. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 36(10): 1313-1320 (2011).
  • Rodriguez‐Iturbe I, Rinaldo A. 1997. Fractal River Basins: Chance and Self‐Organization. Cambridge University Press: New York.
  • Gaucherel C. 2003. Pertinence de la notion d’indicateur pour la caractérisation du bassin versant. L’Espace Géographique 3: 265–281.

See also:



For any questions or remarks, please contact : Cédric Gaucherel