Integration of InSAR Analysis and Numerical Modeling for the Assessment of Ground Subsidence in the City of Lisbon, Portugal

Catal„o J, Nico G, Lollino P, Conde V, Lorusso G, Silva C
IEEE Journal Of Selected Topics In Applied Earth Observations And Remote Sensing, Vol. 9, N. 4, April, 2016, pp 1663-1673, DOI: 10.1109/JSTARS.2015.2428615

Download PDF


In this work, we exploit the integration of an advanced synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferometry technique and the application of the finite-element method for the assessment and the interpretation of a localized subsidence phenomenon that took place within a specific area of Lisbon, Portugal. SAR images over the Lisbon city, covering different time intervals in the period of 1995-2010, were acquired and processed by means of the persistent scatterers (PSs) technique. Results clearly reveals a localized subsidence, limited to an area 2 km ◊ 1.5 km wide, which has been confirmed by the leveling performed in 1976, 1996, and 2010. A physical interpretation of the observed ground deformations is provided based on the results of a finite-element model using stratigraphic data, in situ piezometric measurements, and geotechnical properties of the involved soils. The ground subsidence is interpreted as the consequence of a consolidation process affecting the central fine-grained soil layer, which in turn has been driven by water withdrawal from the existing aquifers. The change of the hydraulic boundary conditions was generated by the excavation works for the construction of underground lines and also by the reduction of rainfall water infiltration as an effect of the increase in ground surface impermeable areas due to urbanization. The consequent consolidation process of the compressible fine-grained soil layer is supposed to provide a reasonable explanation of the observed time series of ground displacement in the examined area.