Houston-Galveston Bay area, Texas, from space; a new tool for mapping land subsidence

Fact Sheet 110-02
In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
By:  and 



Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) is a powerful new tool that uses radar signals to measure displacement (subsidence and uplift) of the Earth's crust at an unprecedented level of spatial detail and high degree of measurement resolution.

The Houston-Galveston Bay area, possibly more than any other metropolitan area in the United States, has been adversely affected by land subsidence. Extensive subsidence, caused mainly by ground-water pumping but also by oil and gas extraction, has increased the frequency of flooding, caused extensive damage to industrial and transportation infrastructure, motivated major investments in levees, reservoirs, and surfacewater distribution facilities, and caused substantial loss of wetland habitat. Ongoing patterns of subsidence in the Houston area have been carefully monitored using borehole extensometers, Global Positioning System (GPS) and conventional spirit-leveling surveys, and more recently, an emerging technology—Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR)—which enables development of spatially-detailed maps of land-surface displacement over broad areas.

This report, prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, briefly summarizes the history of subsidence in the area and the local consequences of subsidence and describes the use of InSAR as one of several tools in an integrated subsidence-monitoring program in the area.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Houston-Galveston Bay area, Texas, from space; a new tool for mapping land subsidence
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 110-02
DOI 10.3133/fs11002
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Texas Water Science Center
Description HTML Document; Report: 6 p.
Country United States
State Texas
Other Geospatial Houston-Galveston Bay area
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