Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Microwave radar monitors sliding slopes: Geodesists research in the Alps

Date:
March 10, 2014
Source:
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Summary:
The “Steinlehnen” slope in Northern Tyrol (Austria) started to move in 2003. Rockfalls threatened people, streets and buildings. Meanwhile, peace has returned; although the slope is merely “creeping”, Steinlehnen has become an interesting research object for scientists in recent years.

The “Steinlehnen” slope in Northern Tyrol (Austria), in front the microwave radar system.
Credit: Sabine Rödelsperger / TU Darmstadt

The "Steinlehnen" slope in Northern Tyrol (Austria) started to move in 2003. Rockfalls threatened people, streets and buildings. Meanwhile, peace has returned; although the slope is merely "creeping," Steinlehnen has become an interesting research object for scientists in recent years.

Related Articles


Professor Andreas Eichhorn of the Geodetic Measurement Systems and Sensors branch in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt initiated the interdisciplinary project KASIP (Knowledge-based Alarm System with Identified Deformation Predictor) together with the Technical University of Vienna and the "alpS" research institute; the goal was to combine metrological observations of the slope with computer models.

"A slope is tremendously complex," says Eichhorn. It can be difficult to determine exactly how a mountain slope is composed and how a failure mechanism works in detail. Therefore, scientists will not be able to rely solely on computer-based models to predict mass movements in the future; they also need efficient and precise surveillance and monitoring systems that are as comprehensive as possible.

To do this, Eichhorn and his team tested different methods at Steinlehnen. "Installing sensors in highly active areas of the mountain is very dangerous," explains Eichhorn. "We were looking for a method that, among other things, makes non-contact observation possible." In the end, one method proved to be particularly suitable; although its basic physical principle has been used in geodesy for a long time, it was never used for the monitoring of slopes. This method uses a microwave radar of the Department of Physical Geodesy and Satellite Geodesy of the TU Darmstadt (Professor Matthias Becker), which was applied prototypically by Eichhorn's team of Darmstadt scientists.

Here, the entire surface of a slope is "shot" with microwaves that are reflected back from the surface and can then be analyzed. By comparing different measurements, the scientists can document changes of just a few millimeters. Accumulations or erosion of rock material, or even the beginning of a major landslide, can thus be recorded, Eichhorn says. In contrast to methods that scan the surface with laser light, for example, microwaves deliver much less disturbance. "A laser has too much noise," says Eichhorn. In her dissertation, doctoral candidate Sabine Rödelsperger developed an evaluation strategy for interpreting the measured data; among other things, this also makes it possible to remove meteorological disturbances and to arrive at meaningful 3D images of the slope.

During the KASIP experiments, the geodesists from Darmstadt, together with their colleagues from the field of geophysics, achieved many important insights for the more accurate interpretation of observed geophysical phenomena and the correlation between the weather and the sliding behavior of the slope. But the research also has practical benefits, as Eichhorn explains: "Solely in terms of technology, it is possible to continuously monitor a large-scale critical slope in high-resolution. Accelerations -- early indicators of the possible slipping of large masses -- can be detected, and it can be determined when the slope stops moving."

Microwave radar devices are still very expensive, but the method already has potential as a good early warning system: "If you would observe critical slopes with them, you could reliably determine exactly where something is happening," says Eichhorn. "Then less expensive measurement systems and their sensors could be specifically applied there."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technische Universität Darmstadt. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Technische Universität Darmstadt. "Microwave radar monitors sliding slopes: Geodesists research in the Alps." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310102216.htm>.
Technische Universität Darmstadt. (2014, March 10). Microwave radar monitors sliding slopes: Geodesists research in the Alps. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310102216.htm
Technische Universität Darmstadt. "Microwave radar monitors sliding slopes: Geodesists research in the Alps." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140310102216.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Japan's Mt. Aso Volcano Spews Rocks

Raw: Japan's Mt. Aso Volcano Spews Rocks

AP (Nov. 28, 2014) — A volcano in southern Japan is spewing volcanic magma rocks. A regional weather observatory says this could be Mt. Aso's first magma eruption in 22 years. (Nov. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins