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Data in Focus: Precursor of Maoxian Landslide Measured from Space

On 24 June 2017, a massive landslide hit a village in Maoxian county in Sichuan province, south-western China, destroying 40 homes and killing dozens of people. Authorities suggest the event was triggered by prevailing heavy rains.

TRE ALTAMIRA has processed the entire archive of 45 Sentinel-1 satellite radar scenes acquired since October 2014 over the Maoxian area in less than 3 hours since reception of the last image. This has been achieved using our SqueeSAR™ processing chain in combination with in-house big-data computing power and SAR expertise.

Significantly, SqueeSAR™ measurements reveal clear, precursory movements of the ground months before the landslide occurred, meaning that, if routinely monitored, there could have been more warning of the potential threat. Results also highlight other areas undergoing deformation.

SqueeSAR™ measurements over the Maoxian county. Dataset: Sentinel-1, descending geometry. Acquisition period: October 2014 – June 2017. Background image: Google Earth.

SqueeSAR™ measurements over the landslide area. The displacement time series superimposed reveals clear precursory movements months before the event.