Global Deformation System (GDS)

Monitor critical infrastructure at a large scale with accuracy and precision

<18 hours

from data ingest to delivery of analysis


savings compared to traditional programs


to reduce noise and accelerate identification of issues

Insar-based global deformation monitoring

Reshaping the management and safeguarding of assets

In today's dynamic landscape, the need for comprehensive monitoring of ground deformation has never been more important. Through unparalleled monitoring capabilities that dive into the intricate realm of surface deformation, organizations can ensure timely response to anomalies detected at critical infrastructure.

At the core of the Global Deformation System (GDS) lies the innovative use of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) technology. This groundbreaking approach introduces a globally scalable solution, transcending geographical boundaries to monitor assets consistently and comprehensively. InSAR also serves as a strategic tip-and-cue mechanism, directing more resource-intensive monitoring efforts precisely where they are needed most. This synergy between an automated InSAR pipeline and targeted monitoring optimizes resource allocation, streamlines data acquisition, and augments the overall efficiency of deformation assessment.

With its seamless integration of cutting-edge technology, GDS is an indispensable tool for proactive risk management, precise decision-making, and the preservation of critical assets.


A shopping plaza in Santa Clarita, CA demonstrates a subsidence rate exceeding 5cm/year in places.

Selected use cases

GDS provides monitoring capability that measures surface deformation over assets that may be susceptible to deformation and subsidence and acts as a tip-and-cue mechanism for more resource intensive monitoring.

Tailings dams

Rail lines


Open pit mine walls

Roads and highways

Hydroelectric dams

Underground mining

Urban infrastructure

Volcanic activity

Who we serve

Blanket your assets with a layer of continuous, accurate monitoring

Proactively assess risks, devise mitigation strategies, and ensure the longevity of vital structures and facilities across a spectrum of assets.


InSAR monitoring is of significant value to mining companies by improving operational safety, transparency, and compliance. By identifying areas of ground movement, teams can monitor critical infrastructure such as tailings dams and mine pit walls in real time, and be alerted to abnormalities experienced by these structures. This allows for better resource allocation and minimizes operational disruptions. Companies are better positioned to meet regulatory requirements through the assessment of impacts on the surrounding environment.


Government regulatory bodies can assess industry-related ground movements and potential risks, enabling regulatory actions and informed permitting decisions. Our dual-use GDS product also provides government organizations with critical information about domestic and foreign infrastructure, thus improving mission-critical decision-making. GDS acts as a tip-and-cue mechanism, alerting organizations about potential threats or illicit activities which may require higher resolution monitoring. 

Risk assesment

InSAR data provides alerts about ground deformation that could affect infrastructure stability, aiding in risk assessment and proactive maintenance. Providing benefits across industries such as Insurance, Real Estate, and Civil Planning, GDS helps identify potential ground subsidence that could affect property value or safety. This enables informed investment decisions and ensures the safety of workers. By quantifying ground movement risks, insurance companies can accurately calculate insurance premiums and assess potential claims.

Environmental and humanitarian efforts

InSAR monitoring data provides evidence of ground deformation caused by various activities, enabling responsible resource extraction and reducing environmental impact. This empowers governments, enterprises, and NGOs to advocate for environmental regulations and provide transparency to key stakeholders about sustainability initiatives. This data can also aid disaster response teams in identifying areas of significant ground movement, assisting in evacuation planning and resource allocation during emergencies.


See intricate details with sharper focus

Capture nuances that traditional sensors, like GPS and seismometers might miss, with innovative InSAR technology. InSAR acts like a high-powered microscope to reveal exacting details of your assets with precision and clarity.

Meet stakeholder expectations

Demonstrate a commitment to safety, environmental stewardship, and sustainable operations that enhances investor confidence, attracts socially responsible investment, and improves public perception.

Environmental regulations

Identify changes to terrain and take targeted actions to minimize environmental footprint to comply with government regulations, thereby reducing financial and legal risk.


Reduce operational costs

Automated InSAR monitoring contributes to lower insurance reductions, and allows companies to address potential issues before they escalate—reducing downtime and maintenance costs.


Streamline operations

Extend the lifespan of assets with predictive maintenance efforts, while maximizing resource extraction by optimizing the mining process.

From top: (1) Global Deformation System detection of subsidence of wall of an open pit mine; (2) Mosul Dam, Iraq, displays subsidence beginning in 2020.

Product features

GDS acts as an early warning system by blanketing your assets with InSAR surveillance—the equivalent to having a ground sensor placed every 10m—enabling companies to take proactive measures to mitigate risks.

Areas of Interest Analysis

  • Feasibility analysis to understand if InSAR is a good fit for a particular area of interest, without a full commitment upfront
  • Instant access to years of archived global SAR data for fast historical analysis and interpretation of current conditions on areas of interest
  • East Vertical analysis results available if the site has ascending and descending satellite collects

Data Frequency and Attribution

  • Data updates every twelve days at 10 meter resolution
  • Additional data attribution such as Velocity, Acceleration, Standard Deviation and Coherence included with data deliverables

Custom Data and Integration

  • Easily incorporate higher resolution InSAR, from commercial vendors, if further investigation is needed
  • Integrate GDS results with GPS, ground sensor and field data for holistic validation

Blog series

Sentinel-1 Synthetic Aperture Radar Capabilities

Dive into Descartes Labs SAR and InSAR capabilities and products in this five part technical blog series.

Product specs

Continuously monitor all assets with world-leading InSAR capabilities

Data Formats

  • Support for common InSAR data formats such as GeoDatabase, Shapefile, GeoJSON, GeoTIFF, GeoPackage, etc.
  • Metadata inclusion with data files.

Data Retention Policy

  • Clear policy on data retention, archival, and deletion.


  • Reliable and secure cloud-based storage for GDS data.
  • API, SFTP or AZcopy access for users/vendors to download data manually or programmatically.


  • Regular updates based on new data acquisitions.
  • Notification mechanism for users when new GDS data is available.


  • Ability to track different versions of GDS data for the same geographic area.
  • Archive capabilities for storing historical GDS data.

Documentation and Support

  • Comprehensive documentation on data formats, download procedures, and processing steps.
  • Responsive customer support to address user queries and issues.

Quality and Processing Reports

  • Generation of quality assessment reports for each dataset.
  • Detailed reports on preprocessing steps applied to the GDS data.

Prioritize sustainable mining with data-led
rehabilitation and restoration.

Talk to an expert to learn how Descartes Labs can grow your business.