Use of Synthetic Aperture Radar for Detecting Subsidence Features in the Lower Mississippi River Valley

Terracina, Steven, The University of Mississippi, ldyarbro@olemiss.edu; Lance D. Yarbrough, ldyarbro@olemiss.edu; Greg Easson, geasson@olemiss.edu; Bruce A. Davis, badavis3@olemiss.edu (Poster) 

The Mississippi River alluvial plain (MRAP) is a geophysical province in North America extending from the boot heel of southeast Missouri south along the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. This study focuses on the lower Mississippi valley portion of the Mississippi River alluvial plain (MRAP) geophysical province that extends from Memphis, Tennessee to Vicksburg, Mississippi and bordered by the Mississippi River to the west as well as parts of the MRAP of southern Louisiana.  Both areas are comprised of typically low strength alluvium, low relief, abundant surface water and shallow groundwater resources.  The regions are susceptible to several geohazards including flooding, bank stability issues, regional and local subsidence, and expansive soils. The New Madrid Seismic Zone to the north also poses additional risk of seismic induced hazards (e.g. liquefaction). Characterizing potential subsidence is of great interest due to increased flood risk along low lying areas near water bodies and impact on levee crest elevations. In this project, we investigated the use of interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) to detect subsidence. InSAR uses waveform phase information or similarly polarized radar pulses from two different acquisition dates with the potential to detect displacement on the order of a few millimeters.  Our project utilized the SAR sensor onboard the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 platform. InSAR analysis relies on acquisition at two different times and for this project we selected acquisitions with fairly large temporal latency to capture possible displacement in our study area. Our results show regional subsidence rates are slower than the detectable limits using InSAR. Additional range (e.g. continued acquisitions) in the temporal database can lead to an improved method of subsidence detection and monitoring the study region.


Steven Terracina was born and raised in Greenville, MS. He attended the University of Mississippi where he earned both his B.S. and M.S. in Geological Engineering. His graduate thesis topic was " Exploring the use of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar for detecting potential subsidence features in the Lower Mississippi River Valley". While in graduate school, Steven interned at W.L. Burle Engineers from May 2018 to August 2019. Steven currently works as a mining engineer in Gillette, Wyoming.   

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