Woolpert Brings in UAS to Monitor Landslides in Rainy West Virginia

Architecture, engineering and geospatial firm Woolpert has tasked its unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with monitoring active and potential landslide areas in northern West Virginia.

The Woolpert team recently collected high-resolution aerial imagery via UAS and generated 3D data after a slope failure on a parcel of land. The firm says it completed the work in under 24 hours.

“This is an active weather time, with West Virginia experiencing historic rains,” says Aaron Lawrence, Woolpert GIS expert and UAS technology developer. “Access to this terrain can be challenging, and viewsheds from ground level can be blocked due to overgrown vegetation. UAS gives us a tool to get as close to these remote and often unstable areas as possible in a quick and safe manner.”

Woolpert says it has conducted UAS projects with various states’ departments of transportation and natural resources, as well as oil and gas developers, by identifying slopes of a designated percentage for road and highway construction and land development.

For instance, if a slope next to a road is greater than 30%, Lawrence explains, there is a higher probability of a landslide to occur and/or for debris to enter a roadway corridor.

“There is value in collecting imagery before, during and after a landslide because from the resulting data, we can better understand the mechanics of these natural disasters,” he says. “Then this information can be used to prevent future landslides, and we can better protect the public, our industries and our resources.”


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