EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Sentinel-1 InSAR Time-series Monitoring of the Unstable Rock Slopes in North Sikkim, India

Gökhan Aslan1, John Dehls1, Reginald Hermanns1, Ivanna Penna1, Aniruddha Sengupta2, and Vikram Gupta3
Gökhan Aslan et al.
  • 1Geological Survey of Norway, Geohazard and Earth Observation, Trondheim, Norway (
  • 2Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India
  • 3Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, India

The trans-Himalayan highway, between Gangtok and Yumthang, winds along steep valley sides, including a long section above the Teesta River. Many villages are precariously perched above the V-shaped valley bottoms. The highway is subject to frequent rainfall-triggered landslide events during monsoon season, disrupting transport and destroying infrastructure. The area has also experienced at least three large rock slope failures (RSF) within the past 40 years and many smaller RSF after the 2011 Sikkim earthquake (Martha et al, 2015). Earlier RSF, many prehistoric, have left at least 30 large boulder deposits along the valley. Several of those such as the Lanta Khola landslide get reactivated each monsoon season (Sengupta et al., 2011). A number of villages are located on these deposits, as they are frequently found in shallower sections of the valley slopes.

In the present study, Persistent Scatterer InSAR (PSI) has been employed, using Sentinel-1A and -1B Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images acquired between 2015 and 2021 for selected historical landslides and landslide-prone areas along the Dzongu and Yumthang Valleys. Among them are the massive translational Dzongu landslide that occurred in 2016 near Mantam village forming a landslide dam (Morken et al., 2020), a large rock avalanche that occurred in 2015 in Yumthang valley (Penna et al., 2021), and several slope instabilities in the cities of Mangan and Mangshila.

Despite the challenges of dense vegetation and winter snow, we detected sufficient targets within the landslides, mainly over the scar areas, rock outcrops, building roofs, and landslide deposits. In this study, we compare the movement/settlement of these historic deposits with ongoing movement in prehistoric deposits. We look at linear vs seasonal components of ongoing deformation within the settlements built upon RSF deposits and discuss the implications with respect to possible catastrophic reactivation.


Martha, T. R., Govindharaj, K. B., & Kumar, K. V. (2015). Damage and geological assessment of the 18 September 2011 Mw 6.9 earthquake in Sikkim, India using very high-resolution satellite data. Geoscience Frontiers, 6(6), 793-805.

Morken, O. A., Hermanns, R. L., Penna, I., Dehls, J. F., & Bhasin, R. (2020, June). The Dzongu landslide dam: high sedimentation rate contributing to dam stability. In ISRM International Symposium-EUROCK 2020. OnePetro.

Penna, I. M., Hermanns, R. L., Nicolet, P., Morken, O. A., Dehls, J., Gupta, V., & Jaboyedoff, M. (2021). Airblasts caused by large slope collapses. Bulletin, 133(5-6), 939-948.

Sengupta, A., Gupta, S., and Anbarasu, K., 2010, Rainfall thresholds for the initiation of landslide at Lanta Khola in north Sikkim, India: Natural Hazards, v. 52, no. 1, p. 31-42.

How to cite: Aslan, G., Dehls, J., Hermanns, R., Penna, I., Sengupta, A., and Gupta, V.: Sentinel-1 InSAR Time-series Monitoring of the Unstable Rock Slopes in North Sikkim, India, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-11320,, 2022.