Active anthropogenic and surface salt deformation measured by InSAR, northwestern China
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Despite the global occurrence of salt, very few salt bodies outcrop and are presently preserved at the surface. Because of this much of our knowledge on salt structures is sourced from subsurface imaging and modeling and less from field based studies. Using interferometry of synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) we monitor surface displacements across four surface salt outcrops in the western margin of the Kuqa fold-thrust belt of Xinjiang Province, China. An InSAR time series was constructed from 40 Envisat ASAR C-band images between June 2003 and October 2010. Interferometric processing was completed using the New Small Baseline Algorithm Subset (NSBAS). These poorly studied salt structures provide a fresh opportunity to study how salt behaves on the surface. The salt bodies outcrop along an active intracontinental thrust system between the Tian Shan and Tarim basin to the south. The four surface namakiers (salt glaciers) were analyzed in this study include: the Quele, Awate, Bozidun, and an unnamed structure referred to as the Western namakier. The ~35 km long Quele namakier is a line-sourced structure advancing along the Quele salt thrust. The other three namakiers range between ~1-3 km long and are point-sourced structures. The namakiers studied display non-steady deformation with rates of displacement varying between uplifts of up to +4 cm/yr and subsidence rates of -4 cm/yr. Additionally, the Kuqa fold-thrust belt hosts a number of hydrocarbon fields and InSAR measurements detect significant anthropogenic deformation associated with hydrocarbon extraction and fluid injection.