Switzerland - Monitoring earth movements

Due to subterranean leaching, earth movements can occur. TRIGIS developed a retrospective monitoring procedure to evaluate an industrial installation on the Upper Rhine. Possible surface subsidence over the past 8 years was analyzed.

Aerial image section of Schweizerhalle
Section of persistent scatter analysis


Using SAR (synthetic aperture radar) interferometry, earth movements can be detected retrospectively.

This technology is based on the evaluation of the phase difference of microwaves reflected from the Earth's surface. On the one hand, two images of the same area can be used to create very accurate elevation models, regardless of weather conditions and time of day. On the other hand, multitemporal data can be used to determine subcentimeter-scale terrain displacements without resorting to complex and expensive terrestrial surveying.

In SAR interferometry, observation of selected points is distinguished from observation over larger surface areas. The point-observation method used here (Persistent Scatterer) is particularly suited for urban areas. Natural reflectors allow for a millimeter-scale analysis of object movements.


  • Using an Envisat ASAR time series (2003-2010), the industrial installation was examined
  • In addition to the Persistent Scatterer Analysis, a WebGIS-based interactive ground movement map was created. Users can switch views between road maps and aerial views and display the individual results of various evaluation time periods.
WebGIS views
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