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Mapping damage during the Bam (Iran) earthquake using interferometric coherence

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We use changes in the interferometric coherence to map earthquake damage that occurred in the city of Bam during the Bam earthquake on 26 December 2003. The approach presented here defines a coherence change index that can be interpreted quantitatively in terms of damage during a catastrophic event like a major earthquake. Using five differential interferometric synthetic aperture radar images, we compute maps of interferometric coherence. Three coherence change images are computed from these based on different interferograms. These three damage assessments yield very similar results despite the range of times and interferometric baselines spanned. This coherence-based damage assessment also agrees closely with independent damage maps derived from other types of imagery. Using existing or planned synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites, coherence-based damage assessments can be obtained within days after a catastrophic event, provided the necessary reference images are prepared ahead of time. As SAR sensors can operate independently of weather conditions and daylight, this may present a reliable and robust means of damage assessment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: German Aerospace Center (DLR), German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD), M√ľncher Str. 20, 82234 Wessling, Germany,

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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