Project GEOLAB and Active Remote Sensing Technology: Norwegian Geotechnical Institutes Application of InSAR in the monitoring of tailing dams

Over the last few decades, the design, monitoring and maintenance of Europe’s Critical Infrastructure has benefited from technological advances in the field of remote sensing, geophysics, and image analyses. Data acquisition methods, processing, and interpretation tools and imaging technologies have evolved considerably.

GEOLAB’s report ‘Remote sensing, geophysics and imaging technology for monitoring and characterisation of geostructures and geomaterials‘ provides overviews of remote sensing, geophysical methods and image analyses which are suitable for monitoring infrastructure and/or ground characterisation. This report focuses on technologies and methods that have been utilised by partners in the GEOLAB consortium. Active remote sensing technologies such as satellite-based radar interferometry (InSAR), Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) have been tested and used in the field by GEOLAB consortium partners.

In our upcoming series focusing on the work carried out in GEOLAB’s facilities as part of the report titled ‘Remote sensing, geophysics and imaging technology for monitoring and characterisation of geostructures and geomaterials’, we will explore the work undertaken utilising these technologies by GEOLAB partners, starting with the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and their use of InSAR for monitoring of tailing dams.

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is a radar imaging system that sends radar waves to the Earth’s surface from a satellite. A continuous band-shaped image is obtained by processing the energy reflected from objects on Earth. The distance between satellite and object can be determined based on the time signature of a signal received by the SAR antenna.

To assess the feasibility of satellite-based radar interferometry (InSAR) for monitoring tailings dams, two case studies were conducted by the NGI. Ground displacements mapped by InSAR were analysed in these cases: the Feijão Mine tailings dam in Brazil and the Zelazny Most tailings dam in Poland.

Two different processing methods, Persistent Scatterers and Small Baseline Subset Algorithm were applied and compared. For both dams, the SBAS method provided better coverage, but the measurements close to the crest of the dam seemed to be adversely affected by the spatial filtering, which “smeared” the high displacement velocities of the beach tailings onto the dam.

For more information you can visit the link to the NGI website and read GEOLAB’s report ‘Remote sensing, geophysics and imaging technology for monitoring and characterisation of geostructures and geomaterials’ by registering on the Knowledge Platform here. 

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