Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 92, Issue 5, pp 517–528 | Cite as

On the feasibility of using satellite gravity observations for detecting large-scale solid mass transfer events

  • Athina C. PeidouEmail author
  • Georgia Fotopoulos
  • Spiros Pagiatakis
Original Article


The main focus of this paper is to assess the feasibility of utilizing dedicated satellite gravity missions in order to detect large-scale solid mass transfer events (e.g. landslides). Specifically, a sensitivity analysis of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) gravity field solutions in conjunction with simulated case studies is employed to predict gravity changes due to past subaerial and submarine mass transfer events, namely the Agulhas slump in southeastern Africa and the Heart Mountain Landslide in northwestern Wyoming. The detectability of these events is evaluated by taking into account the expected noise level in the GRACE gravity field solutions and simulating their impact on the gravity field through forward modelling of the mass transfer. The spectral content of the estimated gravity changes induced by a simulated large-scale landslide event is estimated for the known spatial resolution of the GRACE observations using wavelet multiresolution analysis. The results indicate that both the Agulhas slump and the Heart Mountain Landslide could have been detected by GRACE, resulting in \({\vert }0.4{\vert }\) and \({\vert }0.18{\vert }\) mGal change on GRACE solutions, respectively. The suggested methodology is further extended to the case studies of the submarine landslide in Tohoku, Japan, and the Grand Banks landslide in Newfoundland, Canada. The detectability of these events using GRACE solutions is assessed through their impact on the gravity field.


GRACE Gravity field changes Wavelet analysis Forward modelling Landslides 



Funding for this research was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) grant to the second author. Dr. Riva, and three anonymous reviewers are thanked for reviewing the paper and their insightful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Athina C. Peidou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Georgia Fotopoulos
    • 1
  • Spiros Pagiatakis
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geological Sciences and Geological EngineeringQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Space Science and EngineeringYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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