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Infrared thermography monitoring of rock faces : Potential and pitfalls

Title data

Sass, Oliver ; Bauer, Christian ; Heil, Stefanie ; Schnepfleitner, Harald ; Kropf, Flora ; Gaisberger, Christoph:
Infrared thermography monitoring of rock faces : Potential and pitfalls.
In: Geomorphology. Vol. 439 (2023) . - 108837.
ISSN 0169-555x

Abstract in another language

Rock surface temperatures are of fundamental importance for studies on weathering, rockfall and permafrost. Point temperature measurements may not reflect the small-scale variability of temperature as a function of micro-topography. To close this gap, infrared thermography (IRT) seems to be a simple and promising approach. However, there are several pitfalls in terms of interpretation, as radiation temperatures depend on emissivity and reflectivity of the rock, which in turn are influenced by rock type, surface roughness, wetness, surrounding weather conditions, and angle to the camera axis.

We performed laboratory and exemplary field experiments in order to estimate the magnitude of possible errors. We used rough and smooth (sawn) specimen of six different stone types in wet and dry condition and took IRT images at different tilt angles between camera axis and rock surface. Furthermore, we applied the approach to a small rock outcrop (approx. 3 × 3 m) and to a rockwall (approx. 100 × 100 m).

The results of the laboratory measurements show that the temperature error increases with increasing tilt angle of the rock surface. Depending on the nature of the reflected surroundings, radiation temperatures can be warmer or cooler than sensor temperatures. In typical settings, the error is low (<0.5 K) up to a tilt of 40° but it may increase to >1 K at tilt angles of 50° and more. Smooth and wet surfaces tend to be more prone to deviations.

The field examples confirm the results of the laboratory tests. But they show that spatial differences in temperature can still be detected as the “true” differences are usually larger than the magnitude of error. We suggest to reduce the error of the IRT image by correcting temperatures using a high-resolution surface model.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Infrared thermography (IRT); Rock; Reflectivity; Weathering
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Chair Geomorphology > Chair Geomorphology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Oliver Sass
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 550 Earth sciences, geology
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2024 12:31
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2024 12:31