GeoWorld February 2012

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BY DERROLD W. HOLCOMB Eyes from Above Satellite Interferometry Monitors Operational Subsidence I n recent years, greater awareness of the intricate bonds among humans and their environment has compelled public and private organizations to sur- vey changes and take action to protect our world from adverse effects of human activity. One of the many changes the public has a vital interest in monitoring is subsidence, or the lowering of the ground surface. Subsidence can occur due to subsurface changes potentially caused by humans. Its close observation is crucial in a variety of scenarios, as seemingly small underground changes can have massive—and expensive—above-ground consequences. Industries that extract underground resources such as oil, gas (Maruya et al.), water (Thompson, 2011) and minerals all monitor surface subsidence, upheaval and displacement of the ground surface as an indicator of subsurface changes. In oil and gas extraction, subsid- ence can occur in hydrocarbon production areas that are prone to field collapse as reserves are depleted. 22 GEO W ORLD / FEBRUAR Y 2O12 Figure 1. A test trial in Arizona used radar interferometry to study a subsidence area. Resource Monitoring ARIZONA DEPT. OF WATER RESOURCES

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