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Application of Remote Sensing to the Investigation of Rock Slopes: Experience Gained and Lessons Learned

Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
Palmer Environmental Consulting Group, Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5, Canada
BGC Engineering, Vancouver, BC V6Z 0C8, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2019, 8(7), 296;
Received: 10 May 2019 / Revised: 22 June 2019 / Accepted: 24 June 2019 / Published: 27 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applications of Photogrammetry for Environmental Research)
PDF [4108 KB, uploaded 27 June 2019]


The stability and deformation behavior of high rock slopes depends on many factors, including geological structures, lithology, geomorphic processes, stress distribution, and groundwater regime. A comprehensive mapping program is, therefore, required to investigate and assess the stability of high rock slopes. However, slope steepness, rockfalls and ongoing instability, difficult terrain, and other safety concerns may prevent the collection of data by means of traditional field techniques. Therefore, remote sensing methods are often critical to perform an effective investigation. In this paper, we describe the application of field and remote sensing approaches for the characterization of rock slopes at various scale and distances. Based on over 15 years of the experience gained by the Engineering Geology and Resource Geotechnics Research Group at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada), we provide a summary of the potential applications, advantages, and limitations of varied remote sensing techniques for comprehensive characterization of rock slopes. We illustrate how remote sensing methods have been critical in performing rock slope investigations. However, we observe that traditional field methods still remain indispensable to collect important intact rock and discontinuity condition data. View Full-Text
Keywords: Remote sensing; field work; slope stability; landslide mapping; damage Remote sensing; field work; slope stability; landslide mapping; damage

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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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Stead, D.; Donati, D.; Wolter, A.; Sturzenegger, M. Application of Remote Sensing to the Investigation of Rock Slopes: Experience Gained and Lessons Learned. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2019, 8, 296.

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