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Water dam failure: space-based monitoring system gets the go-ahead for expansion

HR Wallingford will broaden our space-based dam monitoring system, DAMSAT, to include water dams in a bid to reduce the risk of failures. The UK Space Agency has extended our funding following a pilot project to monitor tailings dams used to store toxic mine waste in Peru. Ultimately the technology could be employed worldwide to reduce the risks to those living downstream of dams.

Goggle-Earth

Caption: The region of Cerro de Pasco, Peru will be monitored during HR Wallingford’s DAMSAT water dam trial.

Over the next two years, HR Wallingford will use the ground-breaking DAMSAT software to monitor movement at several water dams in the Cerro de Pasco region of Peru. The system uses Earth Observation (EO) techniques – including the analysis of spectral responses and iron traces from satellite images as well as data from navigation systems – combined with real-time in-situ devices

The consequences of water dam failures can be catastrophic. Earlier this year a breach at Tiware dam in India flooded seven villages and swept away 20 people, according to local media reports. DAMSAT could help to prevent such devastation by alerting authorities of problems with structures before they are at risk of failing.

Marta Roca Collell, project manager at HR Wallingford, said: ‘DAMSAT allows authorities to monitor dams remotely, particularly useful in isolated locations or where there are concerns about dam management’.

DAMSAT’s potential in the water sector is huge.  Globally, nearly 60,000 dams are registered with the International Commission for large Dams (ICOLD), which are estimated to hold 16, 201 km3 of water – the same volume as around 6.5 billion Olympic-sized swimming pools.

HR Wallingford leads the research consortium alongside international partners. The group is sponsored by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), a five-year, £152 million programme designed to partner UK space expertise with overseas governments and organizations to deliver sustainable, economic or societal benefits.

The potential to reduce the risks posed by tailings dams using satellite-based information

Our latest article “The potential to reduce the risks posed by tailings dams using satellite-based information” published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction is available as a free download until 20 August 2019 directly from the Publishers’ website Elsevier.

To download the paper, visit https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1ZJpE7t2zY-Hfk

Bibliographic details
Darren Lumbroso, Caitlin McElroy, Craig Goff, Marta Roca Collell, Gregor Petkovsek, Mark Wetton, The potential to reduce the risks posed by tailings dams using satellite-based information, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Volume 38, 2019, 101209, ISSN 2212-4209, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2019.101209. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212420919302766)

At the 2019 ICOLD Annual meeting

Our Project Director Craig Goff attended the ICOLD 2019 Annual meeting in Ottawa, Canada in early June.

Craig Goff at ICOLD

He presented the DAMSAT project and participated as a speaker in the Tailings Dams Committee Workshop.

The annual meeting was an excellent opportunity to present DAMSAT to an international audience and to exchange ideas about the project and the challenges faced by the managers when operating and monitoring tailings dams.

Press conference in Cajamarca

On the 14th of May 2019, representatives of the UK Space Agency, HR Wallingford (the project lead), the Fundación Nacional de Ingeniería Hidráulica, the project’s international technical supervisors and representatives of some of the project stakeholders will hold a press conference at the National Institute of Culture of Cajamarca, Peru.

This press conference is one of the events organised in Lima and Cajamarca between the 13th and the 16th of May during the visit in Peru of representatives of the UK Space Agency. The goal of the visit is to strengthen relationships between the UK Space Agency, the project team and the stakeholders in Peru supporting the development of DAMSAT. Keep an eye on this blog, we will be updating you on further events.

For your diary

  • 14th May 2019, 10:00am to 11:30am (local time)
  • Kazu Terada Room of the National Institute of Culture of Cajamarca , Jr. Belén, Cajamarca, Peru
  • To attend the conference please contact Jean Carlo Tirado at +51 918 814 410 or jean.tirado@fundacionhidraulica.com

 

At the EGU conference

The General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) is held every year in April in Vienna, Austria. This year DAMSAT was also there along with more than 16,000 scientists from 113 different countries.

General view of one of the sessions at the EGU conference

Dr Marta Roca presented DAMSAT in a session dedicated to “Earth observations for sustainable development”, chaired by the UK Space Agency and HR Wallingford. The presentation was well received and generated interesting conversations afterwards. You can find it in our Resources page.

Presentation of DAMSAT at the EGU conference