RESIST (2015-2018)

RESIST – REmote Sensing and In Situ detection and Tracking of geohazards


DURATION: 2015-2018 (4 years)


Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium (F. Kervyn, O. Dewitte)

National Museum of Natural History / European Center for Geodynamics and Seismology, Walferdange, Luxembourg (N. d’Oreye, A. Oth)

Centre Spatial de Liège, Belgium (D. Derauw)

Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Brussels, Belgium (N. Theys)

NASA, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA (D. Kirschbaum)


–  Belgian Science Policy (Belspo)

– Fond National de la Recherche (FNR), Luxembourg


The Kivu rift area is part of the East African rift system. It is also the most-populated region of Central Africa and exposed at the same time to the highest level of geohazards on the continent. This region includes the Virunga Volcanic Province (VVP) in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), western Rwanda and Burundi, as well as southwest Uganda. A rare combination of seismic, volcanic and landslide hazards (with highly variable recurrence rates and potential impact) in conjunction with increased demographic pressure makes Kivu particularly threatened by natural disasters.

The source mechanisms underlying the eruptive activity of the VVP’s volcanoes as well landslide triggering and dynamics in the region of interest are still poorly understood, even though in recent years, some progress has been made towards appropriate monitoring of these geohazards: Earth Observation (EO) tools are used for ground deformation monitoring, and the region was provided with its first GPS network. However, this geodetic network set apart, a serious lack of ground-based monitoring capabilities still exists. At the same time, new (expected) EO sensors (will) offer unprecedented capabilities and opportunities.

The recently accepted RESIST project will contribute to the understanding of the source mechanisms driving volcanic eruptions and landslides in the region by 1) filling the gap of knowledge on ground-based level through the installation of the densest seismic and infrasound network ever deployed in the region and first UV camera for SO2 monitoring and 2) combining this information with innovative EO approaches, using both archived data and new space-born acquisition possibilities in radar, optic, gas and precipitation monitoring. RESIST will exploit ground-based instrument networks, field surveys and modern EO techniques (Split Band and MSBAS InSAR time-series, SO2 flux, TRMM) to study and characterize the changes in the monitored parameters that could/should be considered as significant in terms of volcanic and landslide (LS) processes. The locations of ground based measurement stations will be chosen in order for the network not to be jeopardized as a whole by possible political unrest.

Concerning volcanic signals, RESIST aims at gaining scientific insights into the mechanisms that lead to an eruption and what types of measurable phenomena and signals can be robustly considered as precursory information for eruptive activity. With respect to LS processes, the project will aim at gaining scientific insights into the rainfall thresholds that trigger the different types of LS at the regional scale. Both core objectives require measuring and monitoring ground deformations and benefit from the new dense seismic network.

All methods used for InSAR time series, GPS, seismic location and event characterisation and classifications, high resolution optical imagery, SO2 flux computation and determination of rainfall thresholds (TRMM) are based upon well-established techniques to be improved with novel approaches, providing a good balance between risk and reward. The excellent complementarity and long experience of RESIST partners already involved in previous projects in that region will warrant the feasibility of the ground-based segment.

Through this multidisciplinary combination of these multiple data sets and methodologies, RESIST will contribute to an unprecedented understanding of deep and shallow earth processes responsible of critical geohazards in a highly sensitive region.
By addressing the understanding of two of the mains hazards in the Kivu rift zone using complementary RS and ground-based measurement techniques and implying both local partners and an international partner, RESIST proposes innovative quality research, participates to the development of new RS applications and keeps Belgium as a recognized center of expertize in RS. In that sense, it fully reaches the main goals of the STEREOIII program. It furthermore capitalizes on a highly experienced consortium and successful projects.