Uncertainty of InSAR velocity fields for measuring long-wavelength displacement

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Falk Amelung and Heresh Fattahi, University of Miami, Miami, FL, United States
Long-wavelength artifacts in InSAR data are the main limitation to measure long-wavelength displacement; they are traditionally attributed mainly to the inaccuracy of the satellite orbits (orbital errors). However, most satellites are precisely tracked resulting in uncertainties of orbits of 2-10 cm. Orbits of these satellites are thus precise enough to obtain precise velocity fields with uncertainties better than 1 mm/yr/100 km for older satellites (e.g. Envisat) and better than 0.2 mm/yr/100 km for modern satellites (e.g. TerraSAR-X and Sentinel-1) [Fattahi & Amelung, 2014]. Such accurate velocity fields are achievable if long-wavelength artifacts from sources other than orbital errors are identified and corrected for. We present a modified Small Baseline approach to measure long-wavelength deformation and evaluate the uncertainty of these measurements.

We use a redundant network of interferograms for detection and correction of unwrapping errors to ensure the unbiased estimation of phase history. We distinguish between different sources of long-wavelength artifacts and correct those introduced by atmospheric delay, topographic residuals, timing errors, processing approximations and hardware issues. We evaluate the uncertainty of the velocity fields using a covariance matrix with the contributions from orbital errors and residual atmospheric delay. For contributions from the orbital errors we consider the standard deviation of velocity gradients in range and azimuth directions as a function of orbital uncertainty. For contributions from the residual atmospheric delay we use several approaches including the structure functions of InSAR time-series epochs, the predicted delay from numerical weather models and estimated wet delay from optical imagery.

We validate this InSAR approach for measuring long-wavelength deformation by comparing InSAR velocity fields over ~500 km long swath across the southern San Andreas fault system with independent GPS velocities and examine the estimated uncertainties in several non-deforming areas. We show the efficiency of the approach to study the continental deformation across the Chaman fault system at the western Indian plate boundary. Ref: Fattahi, H., & Amelung, F., (2014), InSAR uncertainty due to orbital errors, Geophys, J. Int (in press).