Terrafirma.eu.com: A pan-European ground hazard information service
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Terrafirma is one of ten services being supported by the European Space Agency's (ESA) Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) Service Element Programme. Terrafirma provides a ground motion hazard information service, distributed throughout Europe via national geological surveys and institutions.

The objective of this service is to help:

  • Identify hazards
  • Improve safety, and
  • Mitigate risk

Terrafirma is based upon the revolutionary remote sensing technique of Persistent Scatterer Interferometry which has the power to map millimetric ground motion phenomena from space. PSI involves the processing of 50+ radar scenes from an archive dating back to 1991 to identify networks of reflecting ground features, such as buildings, bridges and other structures, against which precise phase measurements can be made over time. The results provide unique, wide-area maps of ground and building motion that can be difficult if not impossible to detect by conventional means. The service currently focuses on urban subsidence and landslides but will eventually include earthquake zones, coastlines and flood plains.

Terrafirma is operating in three discrete stages of 0-2, 2-5 and 5-10 years. The first two-year Stage 1 (which ended in 2005) was concerned with consolidation of both service providers and users. In November 2005 Terrafirma entered Stage 2, concerned with rolling-out the service across all Member States of the EC. During this stage, processing equally covering all of the EU25 Member States will be conducted along with the processing of seven landslide products within Greece, Italy and Switzerland. Stage 3 began in December of 2009 and will continue until the end of 2012. This third and final stage offers services under the thematic lines of Coastal Lowland Subsidence & Flood Defense, Hydrogeology and Tectonics and offers a new Wide Area Service.

Feel free to download a guide to the use and understanding of Persistent Scatter Interferometry in the detection of terrain-motion: