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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-227
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-227
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  27 Jul 2020

27 Jul 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Radar coherence and NDVI ratios as landslide early warning indicators

Mylène Jacquemart and Kristy Tiampo Mylène Jacquemart and Kristy Tiampo
  • Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado, Boulder

Abstract. The catastrophic failure of the Mud Creek landslide on California’s Big Sur Coast on 20 May 2017 highlighted once again how difficult it is to detect a landslide’s transition from slow moving to catastrophically unstable. Automatic detection methods that rely on InSAR displacement measurements to detect precursory acceleration are available but can be plagued by imaging geometry complexities and tedious processing algorithms. Here, we present a novel approach for assessing landslide stability by using relative interferometric coherence from Sentinel-1 and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from Sentinel-2. Our method computes the ratio of mean interferometric coherence or NDVI on the unstable slope relative to that of the surrounding hillslope. We show that the coherence ratio of the Mud Creek landslide dropped by 50 % when the slide began to accelerate five months prior to its catastrophic failure in 2017. Coincidentally, the NDVI ratio began a near-linear decline. In contrast, the landslide accelerated during the rainy seasons of 2015 and 2016, but neither of those accelerations resulted in a drop of the radar coherence ratio. This suggests that radar coherence and NDVI ratios may be able to aid in both the early detection of landslides and indicate whether an acceleration critically threatens the stability of a slope.

Mylène Jacquemart and Kristy Tiampo

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Mylène Jacquemart and Kristy Tiampo

Mylène Jacquemart and Kristy Tiampo

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Latest update: 23 Oct 2020
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Short summary
We used interferometric coherence – a data quality measure used to assess the reliability of radar interferometry data – to document the destablization of the Mud Creek landslide in California 5 months prior to its catastrophic failure. We calculate a time series of coherence on the slide relative to the surrounding hillslope and suggest that this easy to compute metric might be useful for identifying critically unstable hillslopes.
We used interferometric coherence – a data quality measure used to assess the reliability of...
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