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New signatures of underground nuclear tests revealed by satellite radar interferometry

January 1, 2003

New observations of surface displacement caused by past underground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) are presented using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR). The InSAR data reveal both coseismic and postseismic subsidence signals that extend one kilometer or more across regardless of whether or not a surface crater was formed from each test. While surface craters and other coseismic surface effects (ground cracks, etc.) may be detectable using high resolution optical or other remote sensing techniques, these broader, more subtle subsidence signals (one to several centimeters distributed over an area 1-2 kilometers across) are not detectable using other methods [Barker et al., 1998]. A time series of interferograms reveal that the postseismic signals develop and persist for months to years after the tests and that different rates and styles of deformation occur depending on the geologic and hydrologic setting and conditions of the local test area.

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