, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 1015–1027 | Cite as

Retrieval of time series three-dimensional landslide surface displacements from multi-angular SAR observations

  • Xuguo Shi
  • Lu Zhang
  • Chao Zhou
  • Menghua Li
  • Mingsheng Liao
Technical Note


A major limitation for wide application of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) remote sensing in mapping landslide surface displacements is the intrinsic gap between the ultimate objective of measuring three-dimensional displacements and the limited capability of detecting only one or two-dimensional displacements by repeat-pass SAR observations of identical imaging geometries. Although multi-orbit SAR observations of dissimilar viewing geometries can be jointly analyzed to inverse the three-dimensional displacements, the reliability of inversion results might be highly questionable in case of continuous motion because of the usually asynchronous acquisitions of multi-orbit SAR datasets. Aiming at this problem, we proposed an approach of retrieving time series three-dimensional displacements from multi-angular SAR datasets for step-like landslides in the Three Gorges area in this article. Firstly, time series displacements of a common ground target in the azimuth and line-of-sight (LOS) direction can be estimated using traditional methods of SAR interferometry (InSAR) and SAR pixel offset tracking (POT), respectively. Then, a spline fitting and interpolation procedure was employed to parameterize the displacement history in the sliding/dormant periods of step-like landslides and estimate displacements from multi-angular observations for identical date series. Finally, three-dimensional displacements can be inverted from these synchronized multi-angular measured displacements in traditional ways. As a case study, the proposed method was applied to retrieve the three-dimensional displacements history of the Shuping landslide in the Three Gorges area, China. Comparisons between SAR-measured displacements and measurements of global positioning system (GPS) showed good agreement. Furthermore, temporal correlation analyses suggest that reservoir water level fluctuation and rainfall are the two most important impact factors for the Shuping landslide stability.


Pixel offset tracking Step-like landslide Three-dimensional displacement Three Gorges Water level 



This work was financially supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFB0502700), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 61331016, 41702376, and 41774006), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) (Grant No. CUG170634). The TerraSAR-X datasets were provided by German Aerospace Center (DLR) through the General AO project (GEO0606) and TSX-Archive AO projects (GEO1856 and GEO2845).

Supplementary material

10346_2018_975_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.9 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 2.91 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Information EngineeringChina University of GeosciencesWuhanRepublic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote SensingWuhan UniversityWuhanRepublic of China
  3. 3.Collaborative Innovation Center for Geospatial TechnologyWuhanRepublic of China
  4. 4.Engineering FacultyChina University of GeosciencesWuhanRepublic of China

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