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Radar interferometry based settlement monitoring in tunnelling: visualisation and accuracy analyses

Schindler, Steffen; Hegemann, Felix; Koch, Christian; K�nig, Markus; Mark, Peter

Radar interferometry based settlement monitoring in tunnelling: visualisation and accuracy analyses Thumbnail


Steffen Schindler

Felix Hegemann

Christian Koch

Markus K�nig

Peter Mark



The accurate, efficient and economical monitoring of settlements caused by tunnel boring machines, especially in regions of particular interest such as critical inner city areas, has become an important aspect of the tunnelling operation. Besides conventional terrestrial based methods to capture settlements, satellite based techniques that can accurately determine displacements remotely, are increasingly being used to augment standard terrestrial measurements. However, not much attention has been paid to analyse the accuracy of satellite based measurement data. In addition, there is also a lack of studies on how to visualise the resulting huge amount of data in the context of both the tunnel advancement and the existing building infrastructure.


This paper introduces the basics of settlement monitoring using radar interferometry methods, in particular showing the results obtained by processing radar images from the TerraSAR-X satellite to monitor a downtown construction site in Düsseldorf, Germany, where a new underground line (“Wehrhahn-Linie”) is being built. By comparing terrestrial measurements with remote satellite based settlement data in temporal and spatial corridors, the accuracy of the radar interferometry method is shown. Moreover, a 4D visualisation concept is presented that correlates satellite and terrestrial based settlement data correlated with above-ground buildings and boring machine performance parameters within a Virtual Reality (VR) environment.


By comparing up to 23,000 pairs of satellite and terrestrial based settlement data points of a real tunnelling project an accuracy of about ±1.5 mm in the measurement of deformation using the method of radar interferometry in urban areas can be stated. In addition, providing a visual analysis of data sources within a VR environment, the accuracy of terrestrial and satellite-based measurements can be visualised in different time steps. Sources of error that affect the degree of accuracy, such as atmospheric conditions, systematic errors in the evaluation of radar images and local events in the spatial corridor, can be quantified. In addition, the 4D visualisation can help reveal direct interdependencies between settlement data and boring machine performance data.


The Persistent Scatterer Interferometry (PSI) based on high resolution radar images of the TerraSAR-X satellite, in combination with conventional ground-based terrestrial measurements, provides a new settlement monitoring approach in tunnelling. For example, due to minimized surveying works and disruptions of construction activities on site and due to the large settlement area coming with a high magnitude of settlement data points, this combined monitoring approach is very practical and economical. Moreover, by visualizing the settlement data properly, the risk of damage of surface structures can be analysed and understood more precisely, which increases the safety of underground works.


Schindler, S., Hegemann, F., Koch, C., König, M., & Mark, P. (2016). Radar interferometry based settlement monitoring in tunnelling: visualisation and accuracy analyses. Visualization in Engineering, 4, Article 7.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 11, 2016
Online Publication Date Mar 23, 2016
Publication Date Dec 31, 2016
Deposit Date May 27, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 27, 2016
Journal Visualization in Engineering
Electronic ISSN 2213-7459
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Article Number 7
Keywords Settlement monitoring; mechanised tunnelling; settlement visualisation; accuracy analysis
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