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Identify and Monitor Growth Faulting Using InSAR over Northern Greater Houston,...

Qu, F., Z. Lu, J. W. Kim, and W. Zheng (2020), Identify and Monitor Growth Faulting Using InSAR over Northern Greater Houston, Texas, USA, Remote Sensing, doi:10.3390/rs11121498.

Growth faults are widely distributed in the Greater Houston (GH) region of Texas, USA, and the existence of faulting could interrupt groundwater flow and aggravate local deformation. Faulting-induced property damages have become more pronounced over the last few years, necessitating further investigation of these faults. Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) has been proved to be an effective way for mapping deformations along and/or across fault traces. However, extracting short-wavelength small-amplitude creep signal (about 10–20 mm/yr) from long time span interferograms is extremely difficult, especially in agricultural or vegetated areas. This study aims to position, map and monitor the rate, extent, and temporal evolution of faulting over GH at the highest spatial density using Multi-temporal InSAR (MTI) technique. The MTI method, which maximizes usable signal and correlation, has the ability to identify and monitor faulting and provide accurate and detailed depiction of active faults. Two neighboring L-band Advanced Land Observing (ALOS) tracks (2007–2011) are utilized in this research. Numerous areas of sharp phase discontinuities have been discerned from MTI-derived velocity map. InSAR measurements allow us to position both previously known faults traces as well as nucleation of new fractures not previously revealed by other ground/space techniques. Faulting damages and surface scarps were evident at most InSAR-mapped fault locations through our site investigations. The newly discovered fault activation appears to be related to excessive groundwater exploitation from the Jasper aquifer in Montgomery County. The continuous mining of groundwater from the Jasper aquifer formed new water-level decline cones over Montgomery County, corroborating the intensity of new fractures. Finally, we elaborate the localized fault activities and evaluate the characteristics of faulting (locking depth and slip rate) through modeling MTI-derived deformation maps. The SW–NE-oriented faults pertain to normal faulting with an average slip rate of 7–13 mm/yr at a shallow locking depth of less than 4 km. Identifying and characterizing active faults through MTI and deformation modeling can provide insights into faulting, its causal mechanism and potential damages to infrastructure over the GH.

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Earth Surface & Interior Program (ESI)