Skip to content

Dam monitoring with InSAR technology

Dams and their associated elements are critical infrastructures due to the need of maintaining uninterrupted operation for ensuring business continuity. Security is a major concern that demands continuous supervision as a dam failure can cause catastrophic loss for the territory. Dam monitoring is therefore a key aspect during the design, construction and maintenance of dams.

Our methodology applies the interferometry technique (InSAR) to the terrestrial ground images obtained by a spaceborne SAR sensor. This technique can measure with milimetric accuracy ground movement with ranges from millimetric to metric over large surfaces (typically over tens of square kilometers), also in the past using historical images collected since the early 1990’s. The above image shows an example of InSAR results where motion was detected on the right slope nearby the dam.

In the design phase it is important to collect all ground related data that can help to obtain the range of geotechnical key parameters to minimize risk during constructions. Previous ground movement obtained by the use of historical image stacks can provide high value data in this phase.

In the construction phase, InSAR can help to measure motion over those slopes that are excavated or slopes that have a load transfer from the water or the wall.

During operation and maintenance, InSAR offers an entire picture of the dam wall, slopes and other related infrastructures complementing standard and discreet monitoring points.