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Satellite survey enhances knowledge of Tuscan landslides

The 240-km-long River Arno winds its way seaward through the tranquil countryside of Umbria and Tuscany, but this tranquillity masks potential danger. There are more than 300 areas within Italy's Arno Basin at high risk of landslides, and over 20 000 individual landslides have been recorded.

Italy's combination of geography, geology and climate makes it one of Europe's most landslide-prone territories, with an average of 54 lives lost for each year of the last half century. However a new service based on satellite imagery can provide early warning of areas susceptible to landslides, by highlighting tiny millimetre-scale slope motion that occurs ahead of larger-scale movement.

The ESA-funded Service for Landslide Monitoring (SLAM) is being applied to the densely populated Arno Basin. More than 350 satellite images of the region, taken by ESA's ERS satellites, have been combined with ground-gathered data to generate detailed products, in order to identify and assess slope instability and risk across 8 830 square kilometres of territory.

The institution responsible for monitoring the hydro-geological risk in the basin, the Arno National Basin Authority, has used these SLAM products in turn to construct its latest update of the Hydro-geological Structure Plan (Piano di Assetto Idrogeologico or PAI), as required by Italian law.

"The experience of being a SLAM end-user has been very positive," stated Dr Lorenzo Sulli of the Arno National Basin Authority. "Most of all because it has been possible to combine the technical and scientific information with the way we normally work, in support of decision making. This is not always possible with such highly innovative projects."

A workshop for current and potential Italian SLAM users is due to take place on 5 May at ESRIN, ESA's establishment in Italy, in Frascati near Rome. The event will include a detailed discussion of the Arno Basin works, as well as those performed in the Provinc
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
30-Mar-2005


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