business applications

DAMMINGS - Dam Monitoring by InSAR and GNSS

The main objective of the project is to build a dam motion monitoring service platform based on GNSS and InSAR and demonstrate the advantages of combining both techniques to monitor dams and their surroundings. In order to achieve this objective, the following activities are planned:

  • Define the user needs and monitoring requirements
  • Develop the architecture that fulfils the requirements
  • Run a pilot demonstration to assess the performance and advantages of the service in an operational scenario


Users and their needs

As infrastructures become more complex and safety concerns gain in importance, the Structural Health Monitoring becomes a discipline of capital importance.

Dams are infrastructures that are potentially very dangerous as they hold a huge amount of water with tremendous destructive power. Dam failure can lead to massive loss of life and capital. Hence automatic monitoring techniques that allow early warning on unexpected events bring a high level of confidence to the dam managers.

In order to achieve a really useful and reasonably automatic early warning system, several features are of great importance: careful selection of representative measurement points, robustness in the measurement system, continuous data acquisition, automated data analysis and behavioural modelling.


The main users of the service are managers of dam infrastructure that want to properly monitor their assets.

Dam management companies invest a large amount of capital in the dam construction and the return on their business model relies on the very long term stable operation of the dam. They need to protect the value of the assets and the safety of the environment and people living in proximity of the dam.

This service is not restricted to a particular area but can be used all over the world as the space techniques used operate globally.

The service is demonstrated in three sites:

  • Benagéber Dam, in the province of Valencia (Spain), managed by the Confederación Hidrográfica del Júcar (CHJ).
  • Arenos Reservoir, managed by CHJ.
  • Albarellos Dam, in the province of Orense (Spain), which belongs to Gas Natural Fenosa.

Intercontrol Levante, S.A. is involved as local integrator and engineering partner for all pilots.

Service/ system concept

The service concept is to integrate GNSS 3D monitoring of a discrete number of points in real time, combined with long-term wide area ground movement monitoring provided by InSAR, to deliver a complete displacement monitoring of both, the dam body and the surroundings (abutments, slopes, etc.).

The complete system is divided into the following subsystems.

  • GNSS Subsystem

Comprises all the hardware and software to acquire and process GNSS measurements in order to obtain the motion vector of each target point in real-time.

  • SAR Subsystem

Includes SAR image interferometric dataset, InSAR processing capabilities for ground movement analysis and monitoring over dam site and surrounding areas. It requires the installation of on-site artificial corner reflectors (CRs) to guarantee the correct integration process of PSI based measurements and GNSS stations.

  • Integration Subsystem

Interfaces with the previous subsystems in order to put together both data sets for further processing, correlation and reporting.


Space Added Value

Space techniques provide reliable measurements with minimum on-site equipment and different approaches that deliver robustness.

GNSS is used to autonomously compute 3D motion vectors of a number of points.

InSAR complements GNSS providing ground deformation measurements over a set of points, named Persistent Scatters.

A great advantage of this technique with respect to standard instrumentation is that it enables the user to detect movement in points where such movement is not expected. Since it requires no ground installation it can assess motions in un-instrumented areas and using historical archives can provide information about past motions on a site.

For remote locations lacking other means of communication, Satellite Communications, provide global data accessibility.

Product Benefits

SUMMIT aims to deliver a complete and reliable Structural Health Monitoring service for dams, by means of continuously tracking movements on a selected number of points as well as long-term wider area ground movement monitoring.

This service provides a valuable early warning solution that will help dam managers to confirm the good health of their structures.

Product Features

SUMMIT offers an innovative combination of two space techniques into one complete and robust motion monitoring solution

  • Continuous 3D motion monitoring of a number of points with GNSS technology
  • Long term wide-area ground deformation monitoring with InSAR technology

Current Status

User requirements were firstly collected from CHJ and Canal de Isabel II and later on extended to address the needs of a number of potential anchor customers.

The development of the system took 22 months and was based on an agile approach with rapid prototyping and step-wise demonstration to the pilot users.

The first pilot with CHJ started on April 2016 and was concluded on October 2016. Three monitoring points on the crest of the dam were used; satellite SAR imagery was also collected and it is now being processed.

The service is currently being demonstrated in two sites, an arch dam in Galicia in which two monitoring points on the crest of the dam are tracking the movements of the dam body and a landslide in Valencia in with six monitoring point located in representative locations continuously record possible movements of the slope.

Gaia Control have been participating on defining the solution of the second demo in Galicia, specifying requirements and interfacing with the customer.

It is planned that Intercontrol and Gaia will participate in the service provision for the commercial phase.

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Ricardo Cifres
Telespazio VEGA UK
350 Capability Green
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1582 399000

ESA Project Manager

Davide Coppola
Keplerlaan 1, P.O. Box 299
2200 AG Noordwijk
+31 (0) 71 56 56405

Status Date

Updated: 24 May 2017 - Created: 18 March 2015