Standing on the shoulder of a giant landslide: A six-year long InSAR look at a slow-moving hillslope in the western Karakoram

Said Mukhtar Ahmad, Nitheshnirmal Sadhasivam, Mona Lisa, Luigi Lombardo, Mustafa Kemal Emil, Amira Zaki, Cees J. Van Westen, Islam Fadel, Hakan Tanyas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In this work, we investigate a slow-moving, large landslide (∼20 km2) in the Chitral district in Northern Pakistan, near several villages. The slow-moving landslide was reported more than four decades ago but has never been examined afterward. Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) analyses, using Sentinel-1 data that span a period of six years, allowed us to retrieve the spatio-temporal pattern of hillslope deformation. We combined both ascending and descending orbits to identify vertical and horizontal deformations. Our results showed that the crown is moving relatively fast in comparison to the nearby regions; 30 mm/year and 40 mm/year in downward and eastward directions, respectively. Also, step-like deformations observed over the crown reflect a deep-seated landslide. At the footslope, on the other hand, we captured relatively high deformations but in an upward direction; specifically 30 mm/year and 30 mm/year in upward and eastward directions, respectively. We have discussed the possible roles of meteorologic and anthropogenic factors causing hillslope deformation occurred during the six-year period under consideration. We observed a seasonal deformation patterns that might be mainly interpreted to be governed by the influence of snowmelt due to increasing temperatures during the start of spring. Overall, the same mechanism might be present in many other hillslopes across the whole Hindukush-Himalayan-Karakoram range, where seasonal snowmelt is an active agent. In this context, this research provides a case study shedding a light on the hillslope deformation mechanism at the western edge of the Himalayan range.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108959
Pages (from-to)1-17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Deep-seated landslide
  • InSAR
  • Slow-moving landslide
  • Snowmelt
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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