Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

William Travis

Second Advisor

Michael Dwyer

Third Advisor

Paul Weimer


This paper seeks to identify the strengths and weaknesses of two remote sensing methods used for determining surface elevation flux (the difference in land surface elevation heights over a given time period): Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and Drone Imagery processed using Structure from Motion (SFM) Techniques. This goal was accomplished by processing imagery from both platforms separately, before conducting a study of the same area and comparing the two methods analytically. A time-series of interferograms was generated on the study area of the Climax Mine and Mill near Leadville, CO and multiple drone flights were flown over an additional study area near the towns of Lyons and Loveland, CO over an active flagstone quarry. InSAR was also processed over the latter study site for the comparison between the two systems. The pros and cons of the two methods are discussed and displayed in Table 1. InSAR measurements favor vertical accuracy at the expense of spatial resolution and SFM images favor high spatial and temporal resolution at the expense of efficient data collection over large study areas. This research is important to the field as it will help scientists and researchers better understand and differentiate between which remote sensing platforms are the most appropriate for a given research topic. The research in this study also laid the ground work for the creation of a model or software toolbox which may serve to integrate the strengths of both platforms into research in future academic endeavors.