Demand for high-accuracy digital terrain models (DTMs) in the Alpine region has been steadily increasing in recent years in valleys as well as high mountains. In the former, the determination of the geo-mechanical parameters of rock masses is the main objective; global warming, which causes the retreat of glaciers and the reduction of permafrost, is the main drive of the latter. The consequence is the instability of rock masses in high mountains: new cost-effective monitoring techniques are required to deal with the peculiar characteristics of such environment, delivering results at short notice. After discussing the design and execution of photogrammetric surveys in such areas, with particular reference to block orientation and block control, the paper describes the production of DTMs of rock faces and glacier fronts with light instrumentation and data acquisition techniques, allowing highly automated data processing. To this aim, the PhotoGPS technique and structure from motion algorithms are used to speed up the orientation process, while dense matching area-based correlation techniques are used to generate the DTMs.
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