Continuous, semi-automatic monitoring of ground deformation using Sentinel-1 satellites

Sci Rep. 2018 May 8;8(1):7253. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-25369-w.


We present the continuous monitoring of ground deformation at regional scale using ESA (European Space Agency) Sentinel-1constellation of satellites. We discuss this operational monitoring service through the case study of the Tuscany Region (Central Italy), selected due to its peculiar geological setting prone to ground instability phenomena. We set up a systematic processing chain of Sentinel-1 acquisitions to create continuously updated ground deformation data to mark the transition from static satellite analysis, based on the analysis of archive images, to dynamic monitoring of ground displacement. Displacement time series, systematically updated with the most recent available Sentinel-1 acquisition, are analysed to identify anomalous points (i.e., points where a change in the dynamic of motion is occurring). The presence of a cluster of persistent anomalies affecting elements at risk determines a significant level of risk, with the necessity of further analysis. Here, we show that the Sentinel-1 constellation can be used for continuous and systematic tracking of ground deformation phenomena at the regional scale. Our results demonstrate how satellite data, acquired with short revisiting times and promptly processed, can contribute to the detection of changes in ground deformation patterns and can act as a key information layer for risk mitigation.