Mapping Ground Instability in Areas of Geotechnical Infrastructure Using Satellite InSAR and Small UAV Surveying: A Case Study in Northern Ireland

Francesca Cigna, Vanessa J. Banks, Alexander W Donald , Shane Donohue, Conor Graham, David Hughes, Jennifer M. McKinley, Kieran Parker

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Satellite Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR), geological data and Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (SUAV) surveying was used to enhance our understanding of ground movement at five areas of interest in Northern Ireland. In total 68 ERS-1/2 images 1992–2000 were processed with the Small Baseline Subset (SBAS) InSAR technique to derive the baseline ground instability scenario of key areas of interest for five stakeholders: TransportNI, Northern Ireland Railways, Department for the Economy, Arup, and Belfast City Council. These stakeholders require monitoring of ground deformation across either their geotechnical infrastructure (i.e., embankments, cuttings, engineered fills and earth retaining structures) or assessment of subsidence risk as a result of abandoned mine workings, using the most efficient, cost-effective methods, with a view to minimising and managing risk to their businesses. The InSAR results provided an overview of the extent and magnitude of ground deformation for a 3000 km2 region, including the key sites of the disused salt mines in Carrickfergus, the Belfast–Bangor railway line, Throne Bend and Ligoniel Park in Belfast, Straidkilly and Garron Point along the Antrim Coast Road, plus other urbanised areas in and around Belfast. Tailored SUAV campaigns with a X8 airframe and generation of very high resolution ortho-photographs and a 3D surface model via the Structure from Motion (SfM) approach at Maiden Mount salt mine collapse in Carrickfergus in 2016 and 2017 also demonstrate the benefits of very high resolution surveying technologies to detect localised deformation and indicators of ground instability.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 06 Jul 2017


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