Evolution of surface deformation related to salt-extraction-caused sinkholes in Solotvyno (Ukraine) revealed by Sentinel-1 radar interferometry

Szűcs, Eszter; Gönczy, Sándor; Bozsó, István; Bányai, László; Szakacs, Alexandru; Szárnya, Csilla; Wesztergom, Viktor

Rock salt has remarkable mechanical properties and high economic importance; however, the strength of salt compared to other rocks makes it a rather vulnerable material. Human activities could lead to acceleration of the dissolution of soluble rock salt and collapse of subsurface caverns. Although sinkhole development can be considered a local geological disaster regarding the characteristic size of surface depressions, the deformations can result in catastrophic events. In this study we report the spatiotemporal evolution of surface deformation in the Solotvyno salt mine area in Ukraine based on Sentinel-1 interferometric synthetic aperture radar measurements. Although the mining operations were finished in 2010, several sinkholes have been opened up since then. Our results show that despite the enormous risk management efforts, the sinkholes continue to expand with a maximum line-of-sight deformation rate of 5 cm/yr. The deformation time series show a rather linear feature, and unfortunately no slowdown of the processes can be recognized based on the investigated 4.5-year-long data set. We utilized both ascending and descending satellite passes to discriminate the horizontal and vertical deformations, and our results revealed that vertical deformation is much more pronounced in the area. Analytical source modeling confirmed that the complex deformation pattern observed by Sentinel-1 radar interferometry has a direct connection to the former mining activity and is confined to the mining territory. With the 6 d repetition time of Sentinel-1 observations, the evolution of surface changes can be detected in quasi real time, which can facilitate disaster response and recovery.

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Szűcs, Eszter / Gönczy, Sándor / Bozsó, István / et al: Evolution of surface deformation related to salt-extraction-caused sinkholes in Solotvyno (Ukraine) revealed by Sentinel-1 radar interferometry. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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