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A UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) team with the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently finished their first aerial photography mission at the Sarez Lake of Tajikistan on its geological monitoring of Usoy.

This is the first time for the team to complete aerial monitoring of geological status in the Sarez Lake area which locates deep in the inaccessible Pamir Mountains and is therefore hard for obtaining high-precision geological data due to its high altitude and bad traffic condition.

The five-member team operates their UAV for a day-and-half aerial photography mission as high as 5,000 meters above the Sarez Lake, and obtained a large quantity of geological data for further hazard monitoring.

Sarez Lake was formed in 1911 after a great earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale. The earthquake caused a landslide of 2.2  km3, which formed the 5kilometers long, 3.2 kilometers wide Usoy Dam. It is the tallest dam in the World, with a height about 600 meters.

The lake’s stability has been an internationally concerned question, considering local seismic activity and the fact that Sarez is located in one of the most earthquake-prone regions in the World. According to scientists, Usoy would be unsteady if an earthquake occurred in the future. Potential flooding poses a threat not only on the population of Tajikistan, but also inhabitants of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

The team captured more than 3,600 photos of the dam area about 70 km2 during the flights in one and a half days. Among them, over 1,500 photos are orthographic shooting with a 20-centimeter resolution and about 2100 oblique shooting with resolution of 10 centimeters.

This is the first time for Chinese scientists to carry out on-spot monitoring on Sarez Lake area, and has set a record for the XIEG drone team’s field operation.

The mission is one of many tasks of a cooperated project by XIEG and the Institute of Geology, Seismological Construction and Seismology of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan. The project aims to provide scientific support for disaster warning of flood and landslide in Usoy dam through high-precision monitoring with UAV and high-resolution satellite.


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