Picturing beach erosion and deposition trends using PSInSAR: an example from the non-barred southern west coast of India

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Coastal dynamics can rapidly alter beach morphology. In some places, such as the non-barred southern west coast of India, studying changes to beach morphology is a relatively arduous task. Persistent Scatterer Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (PSInSAR), a remote sensing technique that utilizes stacks of radar images for accurate long-term monitoring of ground features, allows for detailed observations of coastal morphodynamics. Twenty-two single look complex (SLC) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) Sentinel-1A images, acquired from 4 March 2016 to 3 June 2017, are used to monitor geomorphological processes such as coastal erosion and deposition. Ground deformation measurements from PSInSAR processing shows the coast stretching ~ 70 km between Thaickal and Munambam is highly dynamic, characterized by phases of erosion and deposition. The highest negative displacement of − 24.9 mm at Thaickal versus the + 7.6 mm at Chellanam in the north show the co-existing milieus of erosion and deposition. PSInSAR results concur with corresponding Google Earth images. In addition, beach sediment texture and scanning electron microscope grain micro-texture in the beach segment further corroborate temporal phases of erosion and deposition. Two locations are identified as typical erosional sites, while one location typified deposition. Erosion and deposition or rebuilding of beaches, usually correspond respectively with the onset and offset of SW monsoon wave climate in the Arabian Sea. When zones of deposition are mainly located in the proximity of river and/or lake inlets, stretches characterized by erosion are distal to inlets. Linear regression analyses of displacement–time series plots were used to identify general erosion or depositional regimes along beach segments. Results from this study illustrate how PSInSAR is a capable and reliable processing tool for monitoring temporal phases of coastal morpho-dynamics.

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Wetlands Ecology and Management