Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Marine Geology and Geophysics (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Shimon Wdowinski

Second Committee Member

Timothy H. Dixon

Third Committee Member

Falk Amelung

Fourth Committee Member

Sang-Wan Kim


Time series analysis of Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (InSAR) data has become an important scientific tool for monitoring and measuring the displacement of Earth’s surface due to a wide range of phenomena, including earthquakes, volcanoes,landslides, changes in ground water levels, and wetlands. Time series analysis is a product of interferometric phase measurements, which become ambiguous when the observed motion is larger than half of the radar wavelength. Thus, phase observations must first be unwrapped in order to obtain physically meaningful results. Persistent Scatterer Interferometry (PSI), Stanford Method for Persistent Scatterers (StaMPS), Short Baselines Interferometry (SBAS) and Small Temporal Baseline Subset (STBAS)algorithms solve for this ambiguity using a series of spatio-temporal unwrapping algorithms and filters. In this dissertation, I improve upon current phase unwrapping algorithms, and apply the PSI method to study subsidence in Mexico City. PSI was used to obtain unwrapped deformation rates in Mexico City (Chapter 3),where ground water withdrawal in excess of natural recharge causes subsurface, clay-rich sediments to compact. This study is based on 23 satellite SAR scenes acquired between January 2004 and July 2006. Time series analysis of the data reveals a maximum line-of-sight subsidence rate of 300mm/yr at a high enough resolution that individual subsidence rates for large buildings can be determined. Differential motion and related structural damage along an elevated metro rail was evident from the results. Comparison of PSI subsidence rates with data from permanent GPS stations indicate root mean square(RMS) agreement of 6.9 mm/yr, about the level expected based on joint data uncertainty.The Mexico City results suggest negligible recharge, implying continuing degradation and loss of the aquifer in the third largest metropolitan area in the world. Chapters 4 and 5 illustrate the link between time series analysis and three-dimensional (3-D) phase unwrapping. Chapter 4 focuses on the unwrapping path.Unwrapping algorithms can be divided into two groups, path-dependent and path-independent algorithms. Path-dependent algorithms use local unwrapping functions applied pixel-by-pixel to the dataset. In contrast, path-independent algorithms use global optimization methods such as least squares, and return a unique solution. However, when aliasing and noise are present, path-independent algorithms can underestimate the signal in some areas due to global fitting criteria. Path-dependent algorithms do not underestimate the signal, but, as the name implies, the unwrapping path can affect the result. Comparison between existing path algorithms and a newly developed algorithm based on Fisher information theory was conducted. Results indicate that Fisher information theory does indeed produce lower misfit results for most tested cases. Chapter 5 presents a new time series analysis method based on 3-D unwrapping of SAR data using extended Kalman filters. Existing methods for time series generation using InSAR data employ special filters to combine two-dimensional (2-D) spatial unwrapping with one-dimensional (1-D) temporal unwrapping results. The new method,however, combines observations in azimuth, range and time for repeat pass interferometry. Due to the pixel-by-pixel characteristic of the filter, the unwrapping path is selected based on a quality map. This unwrapping algorithm is the first application of extended Kalman filters to the 3-D unwrapping problem. Time series analyses of InSAR data are used in a variety of applications with different characteristics. Consequently, it is difficult to develop a single algorithm that can provide optimal results in all cases, given that different algorithms possess a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Nonetheless, filter-based unwrapping algorithms such as the one presented in this dissertation have the capability of joining multiple observations into a uniform solution, which is becoming an important feature with continuously growing datasets.


synthetic aperture radar; phase unwrapping; Kalman filters; time series analysis