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Radar Remote Sensing to Supplement Pipeline Surveillance Programs through Measurements of Surface Deformations and Identification of Geohazard Risks

Bayramov, Emil; Buchroithner, Manfred; Kada, Martin

This research focused on the quantitative assessment of the surface deformation velocities and rates and their natural and man-made controlling factors as the potential risks along the seismically active 70 km section of buried oil and gas pipeline in Azerbaijan using Persistent Scatterer Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (PS-InSAR) and Small Baseline Subset (SBAS) remote sensing analysis. Both techniques showed that the continuous subsidence was prevailing in the kilometer range of 13–70 of pipelines crossing two seismic faults. The ground uplift deformations were observed in the pipeline kilometer range of 0–13. Although both PS-InSAR and SBAS measurements were highly consistent in deformation patterns and trends along pipelines, they showed differences in the spatial distribution of ground deformation classes and noisiness of produced results. High dispersion of PS-InSAR measurements caused low regression coefficients with SBAS for the entire pipeline kilometer range of 0–70. SBAS showed better performance than PS-InSAR along buried petroleum and gas pipelines in the following aspects: the complete coverage of the measured points, significantly lower dispersion of the results, continuous and realistic measurements and higher accuracy of ground deformation rates against the GPS historical measurements. As a primary factor of ground deformations, the influence of tectonic movements was observed in the wide scale analysis along 70 km long and 10 km wide section of petroleum and gas pipelines; however, the largest subsidence rates were observed in the areas of agricultural activities which accelerate the deformation rates caused by the tectonic processes. The diverse spatial distribution and variation of ground movement processes along pipelines demonstrated that general geological and geotechnical understanding of the study area is not sufficient to find and mitigate all the critical sites of subsidence and uplifts for the pipeline operators. This means that both techniques outlined in this paper provide a significant improvement for ground deformation monitoring or can significantly contribute to the assessment of geohazards and preventative countermeasures along petroleum and gas pipelines.
Published in: Remote Sensing, 10.3390/rs12233934, MDPI