Sar interferometry reveals ground water induced surface deformation around Tehran

N. Gourmelen, M. Peyret, J.F. Ritz, J. Chery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tehran (Iran) area experiments strong natural and anthropic-induced ground water dynamics. This causes a major problem for irrigation of cultivated land and for water supply of the 15 millions of inhabitants of the city. This ground water motion may lead to surface deformation. Therefore, the monitoring of this surface deformation provides helpful information to better understand aquifer system processes. InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) provides dense and precise deformation measurements which are essential for mapping complex heterogeneous deformation fields. We used acquisitions of ERS that span 9 months between September 1998 and June 1999. They reveal wide areas of surface uplift (by as much as 9 cm). This vertical deformation has probably no tectonic meaning but is rather the ground response to ground water recharge. These zones are all located downstream of large alluvial fans like the one of Karaj. The variation of effective stress caused by interstitial water draining could explain such phenomenon. The seasonal survey of this deformation may be relevant for ground water monitoring and urban developement management. It can also be noticed that some faults act as barriers for these deformation zones and related fluid motion. In the future, new set of images will allow to map tectonic deformation on a longer period of time and to monitor in a more continuous way the deformation due to groundwater evolution. This would allow to quantify the tectonic and hydrogeological part of this signal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-286
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP
Issue number529
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003


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