Detecting coal fires in China using differential interferometric sythetic aperture radar (InSAR)
Jörn Hoffmann(1) and Achim Roth(1)
German Aerospace Center (DLR),
In this study we investigate the feasibility of detecting subsurface in
subsurface coal deposits through InSAR observations of surface
Uncontrolled burning of subsurface coal seams have been reported from
different locations around the world. In northern China alone, more than
10 Million tons of coal are estimated to burn every year, with massive
implications for the economy and ecology. In fighting these fires and
controlling burning coal seams the timely and reliable detection and
mapping of the affected regions is critical.
This has proven to be extremely difficult in the remote regions of
northern China, where many of the fires have been caused by
uncontrolled, small-scale mining operations.
Both the volume change of the burning coal and thermal effects in the
adjacent rock mass are expected to cause measurable surface
displacements and collapses of the earth's surface have often been
reported. Unfortunately, reliable data on surface deformation
accompanying the fires have not been acquired.
However, theory and individual reports suggest that subsidence mapping
using differential InSAR may be a suitable tool to detect burning
regions and map the spatial extent of the affected areas. Though
topography, temporal decorrelation, and poor data coverage complicate
the analysis we have identified several localized areas of subsidence in
Here we discuss the promise and limitations of using InSAR for coal-fire
detection in northern China.
Keywords: ESA European
Space Agency - Agence spatiale europeenne,
observation de la terre, earth observation,
satellite remote sensing,
teledetection, geophysique, altimetrie, radar,
chimique atmospherique, geophysics, altimetry, radar,