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Large-scale Interseismic Strain Mapping of the NE Tibetan Plateau from Sentinel-1 Interferometry
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  • Qi Ou,
  • Simon Daout,
  • Jonathan Weiss,
  • Lin Shen,
  • Milan Lazecky,
  • Tim J. Wright,
  • Barry E. Parsons
Qi Ou
Earth Sciences Department

Corresponding Author:ouqi1005@gmail.com

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Simon Daout
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford
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Jonathan Weiss
NOAA/NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
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Lin Shen
University of Leeds
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Milan Lazecky
University of Leeds
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Tim J. Wright
University of Leeds
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Barry E. Parsons
University of Oxford
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The launches of the Sentinel-1 synthetic aperture radar satellites in 2014 and 2016 started a new era of high-resolution velocity and strain rate mapping for the continents. However, multiple challenges exist in tying independently processed velocity data sets to a common reference frame and producing high-resolution strain rate fields. We analyse Sentinel-1 data acquired between 2014 and 2019 over the northeast Tibetan Plateau, and develop new methods to derive east and vertical velocities with ~100 m resolution and ~1 mm/yr accuracy across an area of 440,000 km^2. By implementing a new method of combining horizontal gradients of filtered east and interpolated north velocities, we derive the first ~1 km resolution strain rate field for this tectonically active region. The strain rate fields show concentrated shear strain along the Haiyuan and East Kunlun Faults, and local contractional strain on fault junctions, within the Qilianshan thrusts, and around the Longyangxia Reservoir. The Laohushan-Jingtai creeping section of the Haiyuan Fault is highlighted in our data set by extremely rapid strain rates. Strain across unknown portions of the Haiyuan Fault system, including shear on the eastern extension of the Dabanshan Fault and contraction at the western flank of the Quwushan, highlight unmapped tectonic structures. In addition to the uplift across most of the lowlands, the vertical velocities also contain climatic, hydrological or anthropogenic-related deformation signals. We demonstrate the enhanced view of large-scale active tectonic processes provided by high-resolution velocities and strain rates derived from Sentinel-1 data and highlight associated wide-ranging research applications.