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16 Oct 2020

Discover how InSAR can improve Surface Movement Monitoring


Discover how InSAR can improve Surface Movement Monitoring of critical infrastructure assets!


The Challenge

Surface Movement Monitoring (SMM) of critical infrastructure assets such as dams, highways and pipelines has never been under more scrutiny.  In this publication we provide a useful overview of how the latest InSAR technologies can improve outcomes for asset managers and their stakeholders.

The Geospatial Solution

Satellite based radar or InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) has been widely used in Europe, North America and Asia for many years to monitor surface movements such as landslides and the impacts of infrastructure projects such as tunnels on urban environments. Although widely used overseas, Australian asset managers are just discovering the benefits of adopting this technology.

Without going deep into the physics, InSAR detects and measures the velocity of changes in the earth’s surface over time in terms of mm/year.  Depending on the use case, accuracies can be as high as 1-2mm which is incredible given that the satellite sensors are more than 500km above the earth’s surface.  The relevant satellites overpass every 11 days and it takes about 7-10 days to process the data and issue a report.

The Benefits

The benefits of using InSAR to monitor surface movements are numerous:

  • Improved accountability for all stakeholders with the ability to proactively monitor large scale infrastructure projects and            adjoining assets for surface movement - before, during and after construction.
  • Improved safety - no requirements for personnel onsite
  • Reduced costs by capturing significant data sets more efficiently and effectively than traditional methods.
  • Less infrastructure - no onsite infrastructure requiring training, maintenance and repairs
  • Highly accurate results (several mm)
  • Economical & efficient - large areas can be captured in a single overpass
  • Improved data integrity & access – a “single source of truth” can be accessed securely on line with multiple devices                  anywhere with internet coverage.
  • Improved user friendly communications - end users do not require technical GIS/BIM skills or IT resources to interpret            reports.
  • An excellent ROI - compared to alternate and more traditional solutions.


InSAR Example – Cadia Mine NSW

The figures below are screenshots of Geoimage’s atlasTSF dashboard which has been developed specifically for tailings storage facilities but can be easily adapted for other types of infrastructure.  The screenshots are displaying high resolution imagery overlaid with Geoimage’s InSAR data processing captured over the Cadia mine in January and February of 2018, a month before the breach of the tailings dam wall.



The InSAR data is colour-coded to show subsidence as red and uplift as blue with a spanning range of colours representing velocity in mm/year (the standard metric used for InSAR results). The display has been filtered to only show results where subsidence has occurred (orange through to green) and these points can be clearly observed along the top of the dam wall.

The second image shows the same InSAR data overlaid on a panchromatic (greyscale) image of the wall, post-failure.

To find out more about InSAR and how you can benefit from these capabilities, call Geoimage on +61 7 3319 4990 or email sales@geoimage.com.au




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