Laser mapping technology is being employed to predict avalanches in the Himalayas.The SiteMonitor laser monitoring system, developed by 3D Laser Mapping and first used to monitor gold mines in Africa, is being distributed by M/s Elcome Technologies, Gurgaon in India.
Supplied by Elcome, the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) is now using SiteMonitor technology to monitor the snow cover build up, as well as access its displacement with passage of time, and provide valuable inputs for improving the accuracy of avalanche prediction in the Himalayas. Using the laser monitoring system, it is now far quicker and safer to capture accurate, reliable and repeatable measurements for the calculation of snow mass, displacement etc.
SASE is an Establishment of the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO), one of Asia’s largest R&D Organisation, working under the ageis of Ministry of Defence, Government of India. Located in Chandigarh/Manali, SASE was set up to combat the hazards of snow and avalanches not only to help inhabitants live safely in the mountains but also to accelerate the pace of socio-economic growth of the inaccessible snowbound hill regions.
A state-of-the-art laser monitoring system 'SiteMonitor' includes the latest 6 km range scanner; a Riegl LPM 321, which can capture up to 1,000 point measurements per second, to an accuracy of 25mm and at a range of up to 6,000 metres with specialist software to accurately measure snow accumulations and track movements over time that may pre-empt an avalanche.
Installed in a heated glass house the unit can operate at temperatures as low as –20 degrees Centigrade, the system also includes a calibrated and accurately orientated high-resolution digital camera.
The data captured by the laser scanner is analysed using 3D Laser Mapping’s SiteMonitor analysis software, which tracks and compares measurements over time, providing early warning of abnormal movement, and therefore, of potential avalanches that may impact on the environment, cause damage to local infrastructure or even injury to residents or personnel operating in the area.