Mapping ground surface deformation using temporarily coherent point SAR interferometry: Application to Los Angeles Basin

Lei Zhang, Zhong Lu, Xiaoli Ding, Hyung Sup Jung, Guangcai Feng, Chang Wook Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


Multi-temporal interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) is an effective tool to detect long-term seismotectonic motions by reducing the atmospheric artifacts, thereby providing more precise deformation signal. The commonly used approaches such as persistent scatterer InSAR (PSInSAR) and small baseline subset (SBAS) algorithms need to resolve the phase ambiguities in interferogram stacks either by searching a predefined solution space or by sparse phase unwrapping methods; however the efficiency and the success of phase unwrapping cannot be guaranteed. We present here an alternative approach - temporarily coherent point (TCP) InSAR (TCPInSAR) - to estimate the long term deformation rate without the need of phase unwrapping. The proposed approach has a series of innovations including TCP identification, TCP network and TCP least squares estimator. We apply the proposed method to the Los Angeles Basin in southern California where structurally active faults are believed capable of generating damaging earthquakes. The analysis is based on 55 interferograms from 32 ERS-1/2 images acquired during Oct. 1995 and Dec. 2000. To evaluate the performance of TCPInSAR on a small set of observations, a test with half of interferometric pairs is also performed. The retrieved TCPInSAR measurements have been validated by a comparison with GPS observations from Southern California Integrated GPS Network. Our result presents a similar deformation pattern as shown in past InSAR studies but with a smaller average standard deviation (4.6. mm) compared with GPS observations, indicating that TCPInSAR is a promising alternative for efficiently mapping ground deformation even from a relatively smaller set of interferograms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-439
Number of pages11
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2012


  • Coregistration
  • Interferometric SAR (InSAR)
  • Least squares
  • Phase ambiguity
  • Phase unwrapping
  • Subsidence
  • Synthetic aperture radar (SAR)


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