Decades of Ground Deformation in the Weihe Graben, Shaanxi Province, China, in Response to Various Land Processes, Observed by Radar Interferometry and Levelling

Jianlong Chen, Yu Zhou, Gan Chen, Ming Hao
2021 Remote Sensing  
Ground deformation is usually used as direct evidence for early warning of geological hazards. The Weihe Graben, located in the southern margin of the Ordos Plateau, is surrounded by many active faults. Earthquakes (e.g., the 1556 Huaxian M 8 earthquake), mine accidents and ground fissures are the major hazards that pose great threats to this densely populated region. In order to characterise both tectonic and anthropogenic activities in the Weihe Graben, we use Envisat data from 2003 to 2010
more » ... d Sentinel-1 data from 2014 to 2021, combined with levelling data from 1970 to 2014, to investigate the long-term ground deformation. We generate four InSAR rate maps using the small-baseline subset (SBAS) algorithm. The uncertainties of the InSAR rates are 1–2 mm/year by calculating the differences between the InSAR and levelling measurements. From the deformation time series, we found that most of the faults surrounding the Weihe Graben move at a relatively slow rate (<3 mm/year). Elastic dislocation modelling based on the InSAR and levelling data yields a slip rate of 2.3 ± 0.3 mm/year for the Huashan Fault, the seismogenic fault for the 1556 Huaxian earthquake. Anthropogenic deformation is much stronger than the tectonic deformation. We identified localised subsidence of 12 mines with a deformation rate ranging from 5 to 17 mm/year. The cities of Xi'an and Xianyang also show evident subsidence, which is likely to be caused by groundwater extraction. Land subsidence in Xi'an has slowed down from an average rate of 10–20 mm/year between 2003 and 2010 to about 5–10 mm/year between 2017 and 2020, but in Xianyang, subsidence has increased dramatically in the past five years from 1 mm/year to 7 mm/year. This is because new industrial and urban development centres have gradually moved from Xi'an to Xianyang. We identified a region bounded by the Kouzhen-Guanshan and Fufeng-Liquan Faults with strong subsidence, as a result of excessive extraction of groundwater. To quantify the effects of crustal groundwater unloading on faults, we calculated the static Coulomb stress changes on the two faults and found that Coulomb stress changes are localised in the upper 5 km with a magnitude of 0.01–0.02 bar/year. The Coulomb stress changes might be large enough (0.1 bar) to affect local seismicity if such excessive extraction of groundwater continued for 10 years.
doi:10.3390/rs13122374 fatcat:ddqvcnqntjdfrmjedpbtjdknki