Modeling the two- and three-dimensional displacement field in Lorca, Spain, subsidence and the global implications

Sci Rep. 2018 Oct 3;8(1):14782. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33128-0.


Land subsidence associated with overexploitation of aquifers is a hazard that commonly affects large areas worldwide. The Lorca area, located in southeast Spain, has undergone one of the highest subsidence rates in Europe as a direct consequence of long-term aquifer exploitation. Previous studies carried out on the region assumed that the ground deformation retrieved from satellite radar interferometry corresponds only to vertical displacement. Here we report, for the first time, the two- and three-dimensional displacement field over the study area using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from Sentinel-1A images and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations. By modeling this displacement, we provide new insights on the spatial and temporal evolution of the subsidence processes and on the main governing mechanisms. Additionally, we also demonstrate the importance of knowing both the vertical and horizontal components of the displacement to properly characterize similar hazards. Based on these results, we propose some general guidelines for the sustainable management and monitoring of land subsidence related to anthropogenic activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Europe
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Groundwater / analysis*
  • Human Activities*
  • Humans
  • Interferometry / methods
  • Radar
  • Spain