The Permian Basin, containing a large amount of oil and gas, has been intensively developed for hydrocarbon production. However, the hazards related to the oil and gas industry including surface deformation and the underlying mechanisms in this region have not been well known. My PhD study aims to monitor the geohazards in the Permian Basin and better comprehend the subsurface mechanisms with the aid of high-resolution and high-accuracy Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) images. Generally, as the pore pressure is influenced by wastewater injection/hydrocarbon production, the pressure changes can propagate to other surrounding underground and overlying rock/soil layers, resulting in surface deformation. The distribution and temporal development of the surface deformation can be obtained from InSAR processing and analysis. To reveal the underground geo-mechanical process responsible for the development of the surface deformation, numerical modeling based on poroelasticity is then applied to estimate the effective parameters (i.e., parameters inferred from the simulation) including depth and volume. This method is applied to three cases in West Texas. At a site in Reeves county, InSAR detects surface uplift up to 17 cm near a wastewater disposal well from 2007 to 2011. Results from both elastic and poroelastic models indicate that the effective injection depth is much shallower than reported. The most reasonable explanation is that the well was experiencing leakage due to casing failures and/or sealing problem(s). At a site in Winkler county, surface uplift and the follow-on recovery detected by InSAR from 2015 to 2020 can be attributed to nearby wastewater disposal. Bayesian inversion with the poroelastic models provides estimates of the local hydro-geomechanical parameters. The posterior distribution of subsurface effective volumes reveals under-reported volumes in the well near the deformation center. We also investigate a case of aseismic slip related to oil and gas activities. The combination of InSAR observation and poroelastic finite element models in three cases shows the capability to investigate the ongoing geohazards related to fluid injection and hydrocarbon production in the Permian Basin. This kind of study will be helpful to the decision-making of federal/local authorities to avoid future geohazards related to oil and gas activities.

Degree Date

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name



Earth Sciences


Zhong Lu



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License