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Open AccessArticle

Development and Optimization of an Automated Fixed-Location Time Lapse Photogrammetric Rock Slope Monitoring System

Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401, USA
BGC Engineering, Golden, CO 80401, USA
BGC Engineering, Ottawa, ON K2A 4G2, Canada
Colorado Department of Transportation, Denver, CO 80204, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(16), 1890;
Received: 16 July 2019 / Revised: 31 July 2019 / Accepted: 9 August 2019 / Published: 13 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Engineering Geological Science)
PDF [10063 KB, uploaded 13 August 2019]


An automated, fixed-location, time lapse camera system was developed as an alternative to monitoring geological processes with lidar or ground-based interferometric synthetic-aperture radar (GB-InSAR). The camera system was designed to detect fragmental rockfalls and pre-failure deformation at rock slopes. It was implemented at a site along interstate I70 near Idaho Springs, Colorado. The camera system consists of five digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras which collect photographs of the rock slope daily and automatically upload them to a server for processing. Structure from motion (SfM) photogrammetry workflows were optimized to be used without ground control. An automated change detection pipeline registers the point clouds with scale adjustment and filters vegetation. The results show that if a fixed pre-calibration of internal camera parameters is used, an accuracy close to that obtained using ground control points can be achieved. Over the study period between March 19, 2018 and June 24, 2019, a level of detection between 0.02 to 0.03 m was consistently achieved, and over 50 rockfalls between 0.003 to 0.1 m3 were detected at the study site. The design of the system is fit for purpose in terms of its ground resolution size and accuracy and can be adapted to monitor a wide range of geological and geomorphic processes at a variety of time scales. View Full-Text
Keywords: rockfall; photogrammetry; time lapse; monitoring; automation rockfall; photogrammetry; time lapse; monitoring; automation

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Kromer, R.; Walton, G.; Gray, B.; Lato, M.; Group, R. Development and Optimization of an Automated Fixed-Location Time Lapse Photogrammetric Rock Slope Monitoring System. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1890.

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