top of page

Sentinel-1 Relative Land Motion Map of Germany 2016-2018

About this Map

Anchor 1

This relative land motion map was generated by Geomatic Ventures Limited (GVL) using its in-house advanced interferometric SAR (InSAR) analysis of over 2200 Sentinel-1 satellite images acquired from 2016-2018.  More detailed information may be found in the FAQ.  The resulting data is copyright Geomatic Ventures Limited 2018.

Anchor 2

Browsable Map

You can browse the Germany Relative Land Motion Map by following the link below which will also allow you to zoom, pan and search for a location or postcode.  You can also choose the background and use a slider to reveal the satellite image or map underneath.

Some rectangles highlighting examples of land motion have been included.  Please click on them to identify:

Lignite Mining.  Germany has been the largest producer of lignite, or brown coal, since the beginning of industrial lignite mining.  Lignite mines in North Rhine Westphalia, Lusatia and Saxony-Anhalt were indispensable in the industrial rise of the FDR and the GDR in the period after the second world war.  Although the share of power from lignite in Germany continues to fall after reunification, opencast mines remain profitable and lignite is still the second most important power source in the country. In this survey, we can see areas of accumulation (blue) and depletion of deposits (red/brown) over many of opencast areas across Germany.  In the map, we have highlighted the following areas:

  • North Rhine Westphalia.    In the survey we see extensive motion (red/brown), likely due to depletion, over the large Inden I/II, Hambach and Garzweiler I/II lignite mines but we also see large areas of potential subsidence (red/brown) in the surrounding areas which is probably a consequence of water extraction.

  • Lusatia.  In this area of eastern Germany, the active mines such as Cottbus-Nord, Jänschwalde, Welzo-Süd and Nochten are clearly visible due to the subsiding (red/brown) areas of likely mineral depletion and uplifting (blue) areas of accumulation.  Some old decommissioned lignite mines have been flooded in the area to form artificial lakes as part of the Lusatia Lake District.  The Großräschener See is a lake formed from the former Meuro mine and this survey shows a clear signal of uplift (blue) around the shore, probably due to groundwater rebound during flooding.

Please note that the satellite image used as the basemap in the Mango viewer is much older than the land motion map, which is very recent.  Therefore, some of the mine extents may not appear to match although, with a more up-to-date basemap, there is perfect correlation.  Users are referred to other resources such as Google Maps to confirm this.

Potash Mining.  The world's first potash deposits were found in Staßfurt in 1856 and, since then, Germany continues to be a significant global provider of this resource.  In the two areas highlighted, we see:


  • Subsidence due to active mines in Bleicherode and Sonderhausen, part of the South Harz Potash District.

  • Subsidence due to abandoned potash and lignite mines and active rock salt mining in the Staßfurt and Bernberg area, south of Magdeburg.

Abandoned Hard Coal Mine, Ahlen.  Since its peak in the 1950s, coal mining in Germany's Ruhr region has been in decline and the last hard coal mine is due to be shut down in 2018.  The Zeche Westfalen mine, at Ahlen, North-Rhine Westphalia, closed back in 1994 but there is still a large area of dynamic uplift around its location.  Although it has yet to be confirmed in this specific case, a large area of uplift over an abandoned deep coal mine site is usually a sign of minewater rebound.

Gas Storage Sites.  Underground gas storage occurs across Germany and here we highlight two areas for which we see clear subsidence:

  • Nüttermoor Natural Gas Storage, Lower Saxony.  One of the largest salt cavern gas storage sites, this facility guarantees a significant part of the German energy supply.  Other salt caverns in the region are also showing strong subsidence, including the Etzel Gas Storage site near Friedeburg and the NWKG oil cavern storage facility in Wilhelmshaven-Rüstringen.

  • Berlin Natural Gas Storage Facility.  This site was created to be a reserve storage unit for West Berlin and was shut down in April 2017.  Previous InSAR surveys of the site during operation found the area to be uplifting.  In the survey here, we see clear evidence that the site is settling following closure.

Infrastructure Subsidence, Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg.  Here, we see subsidence along the railway track on the island of Wilhelmsburg, likely as a consequence of engineering works to the new section of the B 4/75 trunk road.

Interactive Map of Germany


Sentinel-1 Frames Used

Anchor 3
Anchor 4


GIA – Glacial Isostatic Adjustment

GPS – Global Positioning System

GVL – Geomatic Ventures Limited

InSAR – Interferometric SAR

ISBAS – Intermittent Small Baseline Subset

SAR – Synthetic Aperture Radar

UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

bottom of page