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Human settlement expansion is one of the most pervasive forms of land cover change in the Gauteng province of South Africa. A method for detecting new settlement developments in areas that are typically covered by natural vegetation using 500 m MODIS time-series satellite data is proposed. The method is a per pixel change alarm that uses the temporal autocorrelation to infer a change index which yields a change or no-change decision after thresholding. Simulated change data was generated and used to determine a threshold during an off-line optimization phase. After optimization the method was evaluated on examples of known land cover change in the study area and experimental results indicate a 92% change detection accuracy with a 15% false alarm rate. The method shows good performance when compared to a traditional NDVI differencing method that achieved a 75% change detection accuracy with a 24% false alarm rate for the same study area.