Pre-Collapse Space Geodetic Observations of Critical Infrastructure: The Morandi Bridge, Genoa, Italy

We present a methodology for the assessment of possible pre-failure bridge deformations, based on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) observations. We apply this methodology to obtain a detailed 15-year survey of the Morandi bridge (Polcevera Viaduct) in the form of relative displacements across the structure prior to its collapse on August 14th 2018. We generated a displacement map for the structure from space-based SAR measurements acquired by the Italian constellation COSMO-SkyMed and the European constellation Sentinel-1A/B over the period 2009–2018. Historical satellite datasets include Envisat data spanning 2003–2011. The map reveals that the bridge was undergoing an increased magnitude of deformations over time prior to its collapse. This technique shows that the deck next to the collapsed pier was characterized since 2015 by increasing relative displacements. The COSMO-SkyMed dataset reveals the increased deformation magnitude over time of several points located near the strands of this deck between 12th March 2017 and August 2018.