earthquake, reconnaissance, Small Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (sUAV), Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), automated flights, optimized camera locations, optimized flight paths, Structure-from-Motion (SfM), photogrammetry


A sequence of large earthquakes in central Italy ranging in moment magnitudes (Mw) from 4.2 to 6.5 caused significant damage to many small towns in the area. After each earthquake in 2016 (24 August and 26 October), automated small unmanned aerial vehicles (sUAV) acquired valuable imagery data for post-hazard reconnaissance in the mountain village of Pescara del Tronto, and were applied to 3D reconstruction using Structure-from-Motion (SfM). In July 2018, the site was again monitored to obtain additional imagery data capturing changes since the last visit following the 30 October 2016 Earthquake. A genetic-based mission-planning algorithm that delivers optimal viewpoints and path planning was field tested and reduced the required photos for 3D reconstruction by 9.1%. The optimized 3D model provides a better understanding of the current conditions of the village, when compared to the nadir models, by containing fewer holes on angled surfaces, including an additional 17% surface area, and with a comparable ground-sampling distance (GSD) of ≈2.4 cm/px (≈1.5 cm/px when adjusted for camera pixel density). The resulting three time-lapse models provide valuable metrics for ground motion, progression of damage, resilience of the village, and the recovery progress over a span of two years.

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Chemical Engineering

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Associate Professor