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Monitoring the Response of Roads and Railways to Seasonal Soil Movement with Persistent Scatterers Interferometry over Six UK Sites

School of Water, Energy and Environment, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL, UK
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Remote Sens. 2017, 9(9), 922; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9090922
Received: 8 June 2017 / Revised: 9 August 2017 / Accepted: 1 September 2017 / Published: 4 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensing in Geology, Geomorphology and Hydrology)
Road and rail networks provide critical support for society, yet they can be degraded by seasonal soil movements. Currently, few transport network operators monitor small-scale soil movement, but understanding the conditions contributing to infrastructure failure can improve network resilience. Persistent Scatterers Interferometry (PSI) is a remote sensing technique offering the potential for near real-time ground movement monitoring over wide areas. This study tests the use of PSI for monitoring the response of major roads, minor roads, and railways to ground movement across six study sites in England, using Sentinel 1 data in VV polarisation in ascending orbit. Some soils are more stable than others—a national soil map was used to quantify the relationships between infrastructure movement and major soil groups. Vertical movement of transport infrastructure is a function of engineering design, soil properties, and traffic loading. Roads and railways built on soil groups prone to seasonal water-logging (Ground-water Gley soils, Surface-water Gley soils, Pelosols, and Brown soils) demonstrated seasonal subsidence and heave, associated with an increased risk of infrastructure degradation. Roads and railways over Podzolic soils demonstrated relative stability. Railways on Peat soils exhibited the most extreme continual subsidence of up to 7.5 mm year−1. Limitations of this study include the short observation period (~13 months, due to satellite data availability) and the regional scale of the soil map—mapping units contain multiple soil types with different ground movement potentials. Future use of a higher resolution soil map over a longer period will advance this research. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates the viability of PSI as a technique for measuring both seasonal soil-related ground movement and the associated impacts on road and rail infrastructure. View Full-Text
Keywords: Persistent Scatterers Interferometry; Sentinel 1; synthetic aperture radar; infrastructure monitoring; soil movement; soil compression; shrink swell; environmental risk; road; railway Persistent Scatterers Interferometry; Sentinel 1; synthetic aperture radar; infrastructure monitoring; soil movement; soil compression; shrink swell; environmental risk; road; railway
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MDPI and ACS Style

North, M.; Farewell, T.; Hallett, S.; Bertelle, A. Monitoring the Response of Roads and Railways to Seasonal Soil Movement with Persistent Scatterers Interferometry over Six UK Sites. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 922.

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