Satellite imagery to detect surface deformation caused by mining

Satellite imagery to detect surface deformation caused by mining

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Courtesy-BloombergSouth Africa: University of Cape Town (UCT) PhD graduate Dr Jeanine Engelbrecht has recently asserted in her thesis that microwave imagery captured from earth-orbiting satellites is able to measure deformation caused by underground mining. “Surface deformation owing to underground mining poses risks to health and safety as well as infrastructure and the environment. The information derived from the analysis of microwave data, will be useful for long-term monitoring efforts to guide future development planning and subsidence risk assessment,” said Engelbrecht.

According to Engelbrecht’s research, satellite-based sensors could be used for remote detection and the monitoring of surface subsidence, contrasting with traditional field-based measurements, which were point-based and did not understand the full extent of deforming areas. To overcome these limitations, she used image data collected from earth-orbiting satellites to monitor millimetre to centimetre-scale deformation at the earth’s surface. Through the use of advanced signal-processing technique known as differential radar-interferometric technique, Engelbrecht successfully measured and monitored surface subsidence that resulted from shallow underground mining activities. “The results suggest that, by using satellite data, large areas can be monitored remotely and the areal extent of deforming areas can be assessed, effectively overcoming the limitations of field-based techniques,” added Engelbrecht.

Source: Mining weekly