Modeling subsidence using InSAR and hydraulic head

Land subsidence is linked to changes in hydraulic head due to groundwater extraction, but this relationship is challenging to model because it is non-linear. When the hydraulic head drops below its previously lowest level (preconsolidation head), inelastic, or plastic, deformation occurs. However, when the hydraulic head stays above the preconsolidation head, the deformation is elastic. It is challenging to estimate the preconsolidation head, because it varies spatially and over time. To further complicate the problem, subsidence is heavily influenced by the amount and thickness of clays, which is challenging to estimate.

In this project, we are developing approaches to model land subsidence using only hydraulic head and InSAR data. This model solves for the clay content, hydrologic properties, and spatio-temporal evolution of the preconsolidation head.

Subsidence in southwest Utah derived from InSAR. Subsidence rates range from 0 cm/yr (transparent) to 5 cm/yr (dark red).

Top panel: hydraulic head over time.

Bottom panel: modeled subsidence. Dots indicate measured subsidence.