Project description

DAMSAT is a system which uses satellite technology to remotely monitor water and tailings dams and other tailings storage facilities. The system helps to reduce the risk of failure of these structures and the consequent risk to population and damage to ecosystems downstream upon which many vulnerable communities rely for both their source of water and livelihoods.

DAMSAT consists of a number of separate modules that process data and provide information to the users about the state of each dam or deposit.

DAMSAT modules

General Information
Site information is stored here such as the site name, location including grid reference, and a general description of the site.
Shows warnings generated by the Movement Detection, Leakage and Hydrometeorological modules. Warnings are generated when anomalies are detected and thresholds are reached.

Each warning contains information of when it was created and modified, the origin and reason of the warning and any other additional information required by the user. Warnings can be managed by selected users to lower or raise their level based on additional information or actions taken on the ground.

Allows users to do visual inspection of sites by comparing current and past images to detect possible changes in the areas of interest.
Movement Detection
Provides information about movements at the sites of interest and nearby areas. It uses different sources of information:

  • Automated InSAR analysis of Sentinel-1 satellite imagery
  • Supervised InSAR analysis of COSMO-SkyMed satellite imagery
  • GNSS based motion monitoring system. DAMSAT uses the SUMMIT SHM, a Telespazio’s Vega UK monitoring system based on “GNSS” technology that delivers 3D motion monitoring up to millimetre-level accuracy in real-time.
Provides information about changes in two indicators iron oxide and vegetation health, in areas downstream of the sites of interest. The analysis of the changes by the DAMSAT user can help to identify possible leakage or pollution incidents from the sites.
Hydrometeorological Forecast
Presents the rainfall forecast for the site, the estimated water discharge at the site and, when applicable, the change in water levels in the reservoir or ponds behind the dams.

The rainfall forecasts are obtained from NOAA GFS and ECMWF with 4 daily predictions up to 10 days. Water discharge and reservoir levels are estimated from numerical models.

Emergency Planning
Produces information to support the development of emergency plans, helping to improve the understanding of the risks downstream if a failure of the dam occurs.

The results provided in this module are obtained from the consequence modelling approach followed, which considers the simulation of the outflow from the water or tailings dam if there is a failure (the breaching of the structure), its spread downstream, and how it impacts people living in the area downstream. A suite of numerical models is used to create these simulations. With this information, economic and environmental damages are also quantified.

Beach module

This module is only relevant for tailings dams (not water dams). It analyses the minimum distance and area of the beach inside the tailings pond.

In tailings dams, water is kept away from the dam crest and therefore, this module provides a useful monitoring of the evolution of the movements of water inside the pond.