Yan’an new district (YND) is one of the largest civil engineering projects for land creation in Loess Plateau, of which the amount of earthwork exceeds 600 million m3
, to create 78.5 km2
of flat land. Such mega-scale engineering activities and complex geological characteristics have induced wide land deformation in the region. Small baseline subset synthetic aperture radar interferometry (SBAS-InSAR) method and 55 Sentinel-1A (S-1A) images were utilized in the present work to investigate the urban surface deformation in the Yan’an urban area and Yan’an new airport (YNA) from 2015 to 2019. The results were validated by the ground leveling measurements in the YNA. It is found that significant uneven surface deformation existed in both YND and YNA areas with maximum accumulative subsidence of 300 and 217 mm, respectively. Moreover, the average subsidence rate of the YND and YNA areas ranged from −70 to 30 mm/year and −50 to 25 mm/year, respectively. The present work shows that the land deformation suffered two periods (from 2015 to 2017 and from 2017 to 2019) and expanded from urban center to surrounding resettlement area, which are highly relevant with urban earthwork process. It is found that more than 60% of land subsidence occurs at filled areas, while more than 65% of surface uplifting occurs at excavation areas. The present work shows that the subsidence originates from the earth filling and the load of urban buildings, while the release of stress is the major factor for the land uplift. Moreover, it is found that the collapsibility of loess and concentrated precipitation deteriorates the degree of local land subsidence. The deformation discovered by this paper shows that the city may suffer a long period of subsidence, and huge challenges may exist in the period of urban maintaining buildings and infrastructure facilities.
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