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The Impact of Plate Motions on Long-Wavelength InSAR-Derived Velocity Fields

Stephenson, Oliver L. and Liu, Yuan-Kai and Yunjun, Zhang and Simons, Mark and Rosen, Paul (2022) The Impact of Plate Motions on Long-Wavelength InSAR-Derived Velocity Fields. . (Unpublished)

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Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) measurements are increasingly being used to measure small amplitude tectonic deformations over large spatial scales. Residual signals are often present at these scales, and are interpreted to be noise of indeterminate origin, limiting studies of long-wavelength deformation. Here, we demonstrate the impact of bulk motion by the Earth’s tectonic plates on InSAR-derived velocity fields. The range-dependent incidence angle of the InSAR observations, coupled with plate velocities of centimeters per year, can induce long-wavelength spatial gradients of millimeters per year over hundreds of kilometers in InSAR-derived velocity fields. We show that, after applying corrections, including for the ionosphere and troposphere, plate motion represents the dominant source of long-wavelength secular velocity gradients in multi-year time series for several study areas. This signal can be accounted for using plate motion models, allowing improved detection of regional tectonic strain at continental scales.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper Information ItemInSAR Scientific Computing Environment (ISCE) ItemMintPy software ItemPlate motion correction method implemented in MintPy were produced using Matplotlib and Cartopy in Jupyter Notebooks
Stephenson, Oliver L.0000-0002-5509-090X
Liu, Yuan-Kai0000-0003-4032-9444
Yunjun, Zhang0000-0001-9441-7082
Simons, Mark0000-0003-1412-6395
Rosen, Paul0000-0002-4558-6004
Additional Information:Thanks to Xiaohua Xu, Piyush Agram and Howard Zebker for useful conversations. A portion of the work was performed at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under contract with NASA. Open Research. The Sentinel-1 data were provided by the European Space Agency and downloaded from the Alaska Satellite Facility. InSAR data were processed using the InSAR Scientific Computing Environment (ISCE) (Rosen et al., 2012), available at: Time series analysis was performed using the MintPy software (Yunjun et al., 2019), available at: Our plate motion correction method is implemented in MintPy as (for review purposes this is available at: Other data processing was performed using Python. Plots were produced using Matplotlib and Cartopy in Jupyter Notebooks, available at
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220614-222283000
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:115153
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:15 Jun 2022 15:37
Last Modified:15 Jun 2022 15:37

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