London Clay, which underlies the majority of Greater London, has a high shrink-swell potential that can result in damage to foundations and surface infrastructure due to seasonal expansion and contraction of the clay. Currently, surface movement as a result of shrink-swell is not monitored in London, meaning that the magnitude and cyclicity of these movements is poorly understood. Persistent Scatterer Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (PSI) data provide high-precision line-of-sight displacement measurements at a high point density across urban areas, offering the possibility of routine shrink-swell monitoring across whole cities. To test this, PSI data derived from TerraSAR-X (TSX) observations for the period from May 2011 to April 2017 were analysed for shrink-swell patterns across three areas of London in Hammersmith, Muswell Hill and Islington. A consistent cyclicity and amplitude was detected at all sites and the number of cycles is comparable with those identified in rainfall data. The amplitude of these cycles is smaller than anticipated, most probably because of the resisting effect of roads and pavements. The Cranfield University Leakage Assessment from Corrosivity and Shrinkage (LEACS) database was used to subdivide the PSI data and the average velocity and amplitude of each class statistically tested for significant differences between classes. The results show that it is not possible to statistically isolate possible soil shrink-swell movement in TSX PSI data in London.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the ‘Measurement and monitoring’ available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/measurement-and-monitoring

You do not currently have access to this article.