UNSW engineers who played a vital role in assessing the damage from the devastating May 12 earthquake in China received a personal message of thanks from Chinese officials this week.

Associate Professor Linlin Ge, from the School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems in the Faculty of Engineering, was visited by Counsellor Bai Gang and Consul Guo Liang from the Sydney Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China.

The official visit was to give a formal thankyou to Associate Professor Ge and his team, who provided world-leading radar satellite assessment of the ground displacement and possible aftershock danger zones to Chinese authorities.

Associate Professor Ge and his UNSW/CRCSI (Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information) team of InSAR (Synthetic Aperture Rader Interferometry) specialsts led a round-the-clock effort to generate the first ground displacement maps little more than 24 hours after the first satellite images were released. The team continues to monitor the quake zone and provide updated information which has helped Chinese authorities locate areas under threat of flooding or aftershocks.

Mr Bai said Associate Professor Ge's work had been "very important" to China and presented him with a gift of a "ding", a traditional Chinese bronze food holder.

"Professor Ge's research has been taken into use in the rescue work in China - we attach great importance to this work," Mr Bai said.

"We are very much obliged to UNSW for providing such valuable information."

UNSW Dean of Engineering, Professor Graham Davies, who holds posts as a Visiting Professor at China's Harbin Institute of Technology and as an Overseas Prominent Specialist at Xian Jiatong University, said the Faculty was proud of the InSAR team's work.

"We are very pleased that we can play a part and help in this disaster response," Professor Davies said.

"Cooperation between us and the Chinese people is very important and is something we hope will continue into the future."