Space Geodetic Imaging of Rapid Ground Subsidence in Mexico City

Document Type


Publication Date



subsidence, interferometry, GPS, SAR, Mexico Basin

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Since the late 1950s, several areas of Mexico City have undergone accelerated ground subsidence and have developed associated fracturing and faulting. New interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) and global positioning system (GPS) data indicate that rates of current land subsidence in Mexico City exceed 350 mm/yr. These rates are close to historical maximum levels of the mid-twentieth century, when mitigation efforts were first undertaken to reduce damage to urban infrastructure. The locus of maximum subsidence has shifted from its historical location in the old city center to the east. Correlation of our InSAR results with seismically mapped stratigraphic units suggests that subsidence is primarily controlled by compaction of Quaternary lacustrine clays and silts. We also evaluate spatial gradients in subsidence and suggest that this, rather than subsidence magnitude, is the key factor in risk assessment. Subsidence represents a major geologic risk for Mexico City and imposes serious constraints to any further urban development.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 120, issues 11-12, p. 1556-1566