Historical aerial photographs and digital photogrammetry for landslide assessment
This study demonstrates the value of historical aerial photographs as a source for monitoring long-term landslide evolution, which can be unlocked by using appropriate photogrammetric methods. The understanding of landslide mechanisms requires extensive data records; a literature review identified quantitative data on surface movements as a key element for their analysis. It is generally acknowledged that, owing to the flexibility and high degree of automation of modern digital photogrammetric techniques, it is possible to derive detailed quantitative data from aerial photographs. In spite of the relative ease of such techniques, there is only scarce research available on data quality that can be achieved using commonly available material, hence the motivation of this study. In two landslide case-studies (the Mam Tor and East Pentwyn landslides) the different types of products were explored, that can be derived from historical aerial photographs. These products comprised geomorphological maps, automatically derived elevation models (DEMs) and displacement vectors. They proved to be useful and sufficiently accurate for monitoring landslide evolution. Comparison with independent survey data showed good consistency, hence validating the techniques used. A wide range of imagery was used in terms of quality, media and format. Analysis of the combined datasets resulted in improvements to the stochastic model and establishment of a relationship between image ground resolution and data accuracy. Undetected systematic effects provided a limiting constraint to the accuracy of the derived data, but the datasets proved insufficient to quantify each factor individually. An important advancement in digital photogrammetry is image matching, which allows automation of various stages of the working chain. However, it appeared that the radiometric quality of historical images may not always assure good results, both for extracting DEMs and vectors using automatic methods. It can be concluded that the photographic archive can provide invaluable data for landslide studies, when modern photogrammetric techniques are being used. As ever, independent and appropriate checks should always be included in any photogrammetric design.