InSAR ground motion studies in water management

Groundwater resources are facing a challenging situation derived from the increasing groundwater demands. Some causes are clear: the most water stressed areas globally are subject to growing industry and population pressure.

According to the FAO (‘Groundwater governance a call to action: a shared global vision for 2030”), globally groundwater provides almost half of water for irrigated agriculture, a third of supplies for industry and for drinking. Many fast-growing regions of the world that are subject to greater water stress are pumping their aquifers faster than these can replenish. Land subsidence produced by the overexploitation of aquifers has become a common hazard impacting in many areas worldwide. This land subsidence could cause permanent inundation of the land surface, aggravate flooding and could cause infrastructure damage.

Earth Observation data is an affordable and valuable tool to monitor the phenomenon, as stated by the geohazards user community at the Santorini Conference (i): InSAR imagery provides excellent spatial measurements of how aquifers respond to stress. InSAR imagery can identify subsurface groundwater barriers, such as faults, that may not be previously recognised especially in sedimentary basins.

Overexploitation of aquifers in Murcia (Spain): ground deformation motion detected with InSAR was validated with in-situ measurements and integrated into the “Murcia Deformation Model” to analyse the evolution of deformation in the area based in groundwater extraction data.

Overexploitation of aquifers in Murcia (Spain): ground deformation motion detected with InSAR was validated with in-situ measurements and integrated into the “Murcia Deformation Model” to analyse the evolution of deformation in the area based in groundwater extraction data.

But what do we mean when we say that satellite technology provides a crucial contribution to the management of groundwater resources? We can strongly improve the capability to map and monitor the effect of groundwater injections/extractions on surface deformation. Our InSAR services:

  • can be used for the localization and evaluation of areas with ground movement due to injections or extractions
  • provide the possibility of a rapid availability of data mapping the extension of threatened areas
  • can confirm changes in the historical trend of ground displacement
  • can monitor remote, inaccessible or restricted areas as no installation of instrumentation is required
  • provide a view into the past allowing past ground deformation to be analysed and ground displacements to be understood over time
  • assist reservoir management due to a better characterisation of the boundaries of the system
  • can feed hydrogeological models improving their prediction capabilities

The identification of areas experiencing subsidence contributes to a better establishment of safety measures. This information supports governments in their strategies and services addressing hydrogeological hazards, especially those affecting urban areas.

Land deformation map over Jakarta (EO Information Services  in support of Analysis of land subsidence in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the WorldBank and European Space Agency).

Land deformation map over Jakarta (EO Information Services in support of Analysis of land subsidence in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the WorldBank and European Space Agency).

In the last decade we have participated in several projects supporting with our InSAR studies the efforts of local municipalities and authorities policies in charge of water management and urban planning. Some of our success stories will be presented on 9th June at the NovCare 2017 International Conference (Novel Methods for Subsurface Characterization and Monitoring: From Theory to Practice) that will take place at the Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) in Dresden, Germany.

This conference, organized by the TU Dresden, the Kansas Geological Survey and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, is an outstanding platform for researchers and practitioners from all over the world to share research on innovative methods for characterization and monitoring of aquifers, soils, and watersheds. New developments of field applications such as geophysics, hydrogeological and hydrogeochemical field methods, joint inversion of multi-method data, in-situ measurements, wireless sensor networks and remote sensing techniques will be showcased.

TRE ALTAMIRA at NovCare 2017
“InSAR ground motion studies in water management“
Friday 09 June 2017, 12:00 -12:20
Session 12: High resolution characterization II
Building CHE
TU Dresden

(i) * Ph. Bally Ed. (2013), Satellite Earth Observation for Geohazard Risk Management – The Santorini Conference – Santorini, Greece, 21–23 May 2012, ESA Publication STM-282, doi:10.5270/esa-geo-hzrd-2012