Coherence- and amplitude- based analysis of seismogenic damage in Bam, Iran, using ENVISAT ASAR data

G.A. Arciniegas Lopez, W. Bijker, N. Kerle, A. Tolpekin

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The sensitivity of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and interferometric SAR (InSAR) to surface properties, especially changes in height and roughness, combined with an allweather capability, makes radar remote sensing a potential tool for mapping urban damage caused by earthquakes. With InSAR, surface displacement has been mapped successfully and in detail, but for urban-damage mapping, results have so far been less conclusive. ENVISAT Advanced SAR images of Bam, Iran, that were acquired before and after the 2003 earthquake were used. Between preseismic and coseismic image pairs, coherence decreased with increasing damage levels. However, contrary to previous studies, earthquake damage caused both increases and decreases in amplitude. Therefore, its absolute value, which correlated with damage level, was used. Individually, coherence difference led to better results than absolute amplitude change, although still with limited accuracy. The combination of both resulted in an overall accuracy of 52%. Since vegetation causes decorrelation, a predisaster Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer image was used to mask out vegetated areas, which improved the accuracy by 4%. The ground-truth map showed damage levels per district instead of per pixel. Therefore, the ratio of pixels classified as "damage" and "nondamage" was calculated for each damage class of the map, and a clear relation was found. This shows that the aggregation level of the map partly explains the low-accuracy figures of the pixel-based evaluation. Although improvement was made, InSAR techniques for urban-damage mapping do not yet provide the accuracy levels needed for disaster mitigation. However, substantial improvements can be expected from instruments with higher spatial resolution, such as the recently launched Phased Array type L-band SAR and Terra SAR-X. © 2007 IEEE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1571-1581
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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