Shallow groundwater processes maylead to ground deformation and even geohazards. With the features of day-and-night accessibility and large-scale coverage, time-series interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) has proven a useful tool for mapping the deformation over various landscapes at cm to mm level with weekly to monthly updates. However, it has limitations such as, decorrelation,atmospheric artifacts, topographic errors, andunwrapping errors, in particular for the hilly, vegetated, and complicated deformation patterns. In this dissertation, I focus on characterizing the ground deformation over landslides, aquifer systems, and mine tailings impoundment, using the designed advanced time-series InSAR strategy, as well as theinterdisciplinary knowledge of geodesy, hydrology, geophysics, and geology.

Northwestern USA has been exposed to extreme landslide hazards due to steep terrain, high precipitation, and loose root support after wildfire. I characterize the rainfall-triggered movements of Crescent Lake landslide, Washington State. The seasonal deformation at the lobe, with larger magnitudes than the downslope riverbank, suggests an amplified hydrological loading effect due to a thicker unconsolidated zone. High-temporal-resolution InSAR and GPS data reveal dynamic landslide motions. Threshold rainfall intensities and durations wet seasons have been associated with observed movement upon shearing: antecedent rainfall triggered precursory slope-normal subsidence, and the consequent increase in pore pressure at the basal surface reduces friction and instigates downslope slip over the course of less than one month. In addition, a quasi-three-dimensional deformation field is created using multiple spaceborne InSAR observations constrained by the topographical slope, and is further used to invert for the complex geometry of landslide basal surface based on mass conservation.

Aquifer skeletons deform in response to hydraulic head changes with various time scales of delay and sensitivity. I investigate the spatio-temporal correlation among deformation, hydrological records and earthquake records over Salt Lake Valley, Utah State. A clear long-term and seasonal correlation exists between surface uplift/subsidence and groundwater recharge/discharge, allowing me to quantify hydrogeological properties. Long-term uplift reflects the net pore pressure increase associated with prolonged water recharge, probably decades ago. The distributions of previously and newly mapped faults suggest that the faultsdisrupt the groundwater flow andpartition hydrological units.

Mine tailings gradual settle as the pore pressure dissipates and the terrain subsides, andtailings embankment failures can be extremely hazardous. I investigate the dynamics of consolidation settlement over the tailings impoundment in the vicinity of Great Salt Lake, Utah State, as well as its associated impacts to the surrounding infrastructures. Largest subsidence has been observed around the low-permeable decant pond clay at the northeast corner.The geotechnical consolidation model reveals and predicts the long-term exponentially decaying settlement process.

My studies have demonstrated that InSAR methods can advance our understanding about the potential anthropogenic impacts and natural hydrological modulations on various geodynamic settings in geodetic time scale.

Degree Date

Spring 5-19-2018

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