Investigating continental deformation using InSAR

15 February 2013

InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) is an important space geodetic technique (i.e. a technique that uses satellite data to obtain measurements of the Earth) of great interest to geophysicists monitoring slip along fault lines and other changes to shape of the Earth. InSAR works by using the difference in radar phase returns acquired at two different times to measure displacements of the Earth’s surface. Unfortunately, atmospheric noise and other problems mean that it can be difficult to use the InSAR data to obtain clear measurements of displacement.

Persistent Scatterer (PS) InSAR is a later adaptation of InSAR that uses statistical techniques to identify pixels within an InSAR image that are dominated by a single back scatterer, producing high amplitude and stable phase returns (Feretti et al. 2001, Hooper et al. 2004). PS InSAR has the advantage that it (hopefully) chooses the ‘better’ datapoints, but it has the disadvantage that it throws away a lot of the data that might have been available in the original InSAR signal.

InSAR and PS InSAR have typically been used in isolation to obtain slip-rates across faults, to understand the roles that faults play in regional tectonics, and to test models of continental deformation. But could they perhaps be combined? Or could PS InSAR be refined so that it doesn’t throw away as much of the original data? Or, perhaps, could the criteria used to determine what data are signal and what are noise be improved?

The key aim of this workshop is to describe and discuss the techniques and challenges associated with InSAR and PS InSAR (particularly the problem of atmospheric noise), and to look at possible methods for improvement, by combining InSAR and PS InSAR or by methods for making the choice of thresholds.

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