Soil Erosion Monitoring in Quarry Restoration Using Drones

Vicenç Carabassa, Pau Montero, Josep Maria Alcañiz, Joan-Cristian Padró

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Mining is an essential activity that supports the provision of raw materials. However, the extraction process of mining has deep environmental impacts. For this reason, restoration actions are mandatory, and monitoring is a key step in ensuring the renaturalization of affected areas. Erosion processes are one of the main problems that affect restored areas in extractive activities due to the frequently steep slopes and the difficulty of revegetating the technosols constructed using mining debris. This research aims to develop a method for determining soil losses due to water erosion in mine-restored areas by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) tools. For the study, images obtained using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in an open pit mine in the process of restoration are used, from which the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the current state of the slopes is obtained (0.10 m spatial resolution). With GIS techniques, ridges of the rills and gullies generated in the slopes are detected, whereby an estimation of a first DEM be-fore the erosive process and a second DEM after the erosive process can be constructed. Each of these DEMs are evaluated individually in order to determine the height differences and estimate the volumetric loss. At the same time, the results are validated with the DEM derived from official mapping agencies’ airborne Lidar data (1.00 m spatial resolution), which yield consistent data in the volumetric quantification of the erosion despite the difference in spatial resolution. In conclusion, the high spatial resolution of drone images facilitated a detailed monitoring of erosive processes, obtaining data from vast and inaccessible slopes that are usually immeasurable with traditional field techniques, and altogether improving the monitoring process of mine restoration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number949
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • DEM
  • Drones
  • GIS tools
  • Mine restoration
  • Remote Sensing
  • Soil degradation


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