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Remote Sens. 2013, 5(3), 1152-1176; doi:10.3390/rs5031152

Mapping Land Subsidence Related to Underground Coal Fires in the Wuda Coalfield (Northern China) Using a Small Stack of ALOS PALSAR Differential Interferograms

2,* , 3
1 Institute of Spatial Information Technique, Department of Earth Science, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China 2 Institute of Remote Sensing and Geoscience, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou 311121, China 3 Geological Survey of Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou 311203, China 4 Laboratory of Ocean Dynamic Processes and Satellite Oceanography of State Oceanic Administration, Hangzhou 310012, China
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 January 2013 / Revised: 19 February 2013 / Accepted: 28 February 2013 / Published: 4 March 2013
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Coal fires have been found to be a serious problem worldwide in coal mining reserves. Coal fires burn valuable coal reserves and lead to severe environmental degradation of the region. Moreover, coal fires can result in massive surface displacements due to the reduction in volume of the burning coal and can cause thermal effects in the adjacent rock mass particularly cracks and fissures. The Wuda coalfield in Northern China is known for being an exclusive storehouse of prime coking coal as well as for being the site of occurrence of the maximum number of known coal fires among all the coalfields in China and worldwide, and is chosen as our study area. In this study, we have investigated the capabilities and limitations of ALOS PALSAR data for monitoring the land subsidence that accompanies coal fires by means of satellite differential interferometric synthetic aperture radar (DInSAR) observations. An approach to map the large and highly non-linear subsidence based on a small number of SAR images was applied to the Wuda coalfield to reveal the spatial and temporal signals of land subsidence in areas affected by coal fires. The DInSAR results agree well with coal fire data obtained from field investigations and thermal anomaly information, which demonstrates that the capability of ALOS PALSAR data and the proposed approach have remarkable potential to detect this land subsidence of interest. In addition, our results also provide a spatial extent and temporal evolution of the land subsidence behavior accompanying the coal fires, which indicated that several coal fire zones suffer accelerated ongoing land subsidence, whilst other coal fire zones are newly subsiding areas arising from coal fires in the period of development.
Keywords: coal fires; land subsidence; ALOS PALSAR; DInSAR; Wuda coalfield coal fires; land subsidence; ALOS PALSAR; DInSAR; Wuda coalfield
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Zhou, L.; Zhang, D.; Wang, J.; Huang, Z.; Pan, D. Mapping Land Subsidence Related to Underground Coal Fires in the Wuda Coalfield (Northern China) Using a Small Stack of ALOS PALSAR Differential Interferograms. Remote Sens. 2013, 5, 1152-1176.

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