Use of InSAR Technologies For Countrywide Monitoring of Ground Deformation in Qatar and Identification of Controlling Factors

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Geological and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Mohamed Sultan

Second Advisor

Dr. Rama Krishnamurthy

Third Advisor

Dr. Peter Voice

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Richard Becker


InSAR, ground deformation, Qatar, monitoring, sentinel-1


Over the past few decades, the country of Qatar has been one of the fastest growing economies in the Middle East; it has witnessed a rapid increase in its population, growth of its urban centers, and development of its natural resources. These anthropogenic activities compounded with natural forcings (e.g., climate change) will most likely introduce environmental effects that should be assessed. This study investigates one of these effects, namely, ground deformation over the entire country of Qatar. The Small Baseline Subset (SBAS) and the Persistent Scatterer Interferometry (PSI) InSAR time series analysis methods were used in conjunction with ALOS Palsar-1 and Sentinel-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) datasets to map the ground deformation. Controlling factors of the ground deformation was investigated by conducting spatial and temporal correlations between the observed deformation with relevant datasets. The findings indicate: (1) the deformation products revealed areas of subsidence and uplift with high vertical velocities of up to 35 mm/yr; (2) the deformation rates were consistent with those extracted from the continuously operating reference GPS stations of Qatar; (3) many inland and coastal sabkhas (salt flats) showed evidence for uplift (up to 35 mm/yr) due to the continuous evaporation of the saline waters within the sabkhas and the deposition of the evaporites in the surficial and near-surficial sabkha sediments; (4) the increased precipitation during Sentinel- 1 period compared to the ALOS Palsar-1 period led to a rise in groundwater levels and an increase in the areas occupied by surface water within the sabkhas, which in turn increased the rate of deposition of the evaporitic sediments; (5) high subsidence rates (up to 14 mm/yr) were detected over landfills and dumpsites, caused by mechanical compaction and biochemical processes; (6) the deformation rates over areas surrounding known sinkhole locations were low (+/−2 mm/yr), and (7) building-scale subsidence in several locations in Doha city was detected by a continuously operating ground deformation monitoring system using Sentinel-1 data and applying the PSI method. This study can pave the way to similar countrywide studies over the remaining Arabian Peninsula countries and to the development of a ground motion monitoring system for the entire Arabian Peninsula.

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