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Summary of Proposal LAN0535

TitleMonitoring of landslides risks in Machu Picchu, UNESCO World Heritage Site, using InSAR techniques with TerraSAR-X data
Investigator MORA, Oscar - ALTAMIRA-INFORMATION, ALTAMIRA-INFORMATION
Team MemberNo team members defined
SummaryMachu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Inca site located 2,430 metres (8,000 ft) above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Often referred to as "The Lost City of the Incas", Machu Picchu is one of the most familiar symbols of the Inca Empire. The site became famous after Prof. Hiram Bingham of the Yale University discovered it in July 1911. It was declared Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1983. The risk of a major landslide at Machu Picchu first raised international concern after two slides—one in December 1995 and another a month later—occurred on the road that zigzags up the steep embankment from Aguas Calientes. The incidents put scientists and the conservation community on alert. In July 2008 the UNESCO World Heritage Committee noted urgent problems with deforestation, the risk of landslides, uncontrolled urban development and illegal access to the Machu Picchu sanctuary. Our project aims at the monitoring of ground movements in Machu Picchu site using Altamira Information Stable Point Network INSAR chain and processing TerraSAR-X SpotLight mode data (single polarization, 1m resolution). Preliminary results will be presented in September 2009 during a UN/UNESCO/ESA Workshop to be organized in Peru. Main objective is to show the use of space technology to support conservation of natural and cultural heritage sites. The evaluation of potential and limitations of the INSAR technique using the maximum resolution offered by TerraSAR-X data will be presented and discussed.

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