STRUCTURE-FROM-MOTION PROCESSING OF AERIAL ARCHIVE PHOTOGRAPHS: SENSITIVITY ANALYSES PAVE THE WAY FOR QUANTIFYING GEOMORPHOLOGICAL CHANGES SINCE 1978 IN LA RÉUNION ISLAND
Keywords: SFM, archive aerial photograph, camera calibration, landslides, cyclone, La Réunion Island
Abstract. Landscapes have been photographed dozens of times at scales ca. 1/25,000 and better since World War II. Scans are distributed freely online (e.g. remonterletemps.ign.fr). In parallel, Structure-from-Motion (SFM) software made photogrammetric processing easy to non-specialists. Yet puzzling questions crop up to use both: (i) Can raw scans be used as is? (ii) Can Ground Control Points (GCP) and checkpoints be safely collected from a web portal? (iii) How many parameters are sufficient for camera interior orientation? (iv) Are single flight camera networks sufficient to constrain camera models compared to multiple flights? (v) Are photogrammetric Digital Surface Models (DSM) fit for quantifying landslide activity? Processing of scanned black-and-white 1/27,000 photographs from IGN flown in May 1978 over Cirque de Salazie in La Réunion Island answer these questions. We find that raw scanned photographs need translation, rotation and cropping to match the camera reference frame. GCP and Check point coordinates collected on geoportail.gouv.fr with assumed accuracy of 10 m, achieved ca. 7 m accurate SFM registration. The optimal camera model uses only 4 parameters: f, cx, cy and K1. Compared to a 2015 lidar Digital Terrain Model (DTM), the 0.66 m/pixel DSM of 1978 has a median deviation of −1.39 m ± 3.34 m (Median Absolute Deviation) which is comparable to GCP quality. Elevation difference more importantly reveals, for the first time, the 37 years and 13 cyclones cumulated landslides pattern on Cirque de Salazie. Photographic archives hold decades-long 3D history. SFM is a game changer for landslide risk mitigation planning.