MRS Proceedings


Site-Specific Analysis of Deformation Patterns on Archaeological Heritage by Satellite Radar Interferometry

IMRC 2011.

Deodato Tapetea1 and Francesca Cignaa2

a1 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Firenze, Via G. La Pira 4, I-50121, Firenze, Italy. e-mail:

a2 British Geological Survey, Nicker Hill, Keyworth, NG12 5GG Nottingham, UK


Exploitation of satellite radar interferometry on huge cultural heritage sites can facilitate the recognition of spatially distributed deformation patterns, whose morphology, jointly with the analysis of displacement time series, could clarify the nature of ongoing deterioration phenomena threatening the conservation of exposed archaeological heritage. Radar-interpretation is used on selected case studies located in Southern Italy to demonstrate the feasibility of Persistent Scatterers (PS) analyses for site-specific detection of superficial deformation, correlated to natural and/or human-induced instability processes. Evidence of subsidence for the radar targets identified within the archaeological area of Capo Colonna, Central Calabria, confirms the susceptibility of the entire promontory to ground instability, with potential effects on the ruins. Similarly, the uplift/subsidence patterns on the monumental area of Pozzuoli, W of Naples, testify the exposure of the geologic substratum underneath the archaeological structures to the active dynamics of the Campi Flegrei volcanic complex. Finally, the satellite analysis on the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, exemplifies the capability to distinguish differential displacement trends and seasonal variations within single PS time series.

Key Words:

  • morphology;
  • radar;
  • archaeology