EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Radar backscattering properties of lava flows on Earth and Venus

Allegra Murra, Marco Mastrogiuseppe, Giovanni Alberti, Letizia Gambacorta, and Roberto Seu
Allegra Murra et al.
  • Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

VERITAS mission, recently selected as part of NASA's Discovery program, will allow the investigation of the geological history of Venus, the mapping of its surface to study volcanic and tectonic processes and giving to scientists a unique opportunity to understand its geological activity. The spacecraft will carry the instrument VISAR, an interferometric X-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that will provide global 30 m medium resolution imagery of the surface and topographic maps with a spatial resolution of 250 m and a height accuracy of 5 m.

Looking at VERITAS mission, our work combines information obtained both from Digital Elevation Models (DEM) and SAR data acquired over time, in order to study terrestrial lava flows properties. We selected the Pacaya volcano in Guatemala and, supported by the corresponding geological maps, we identified and isolated some of its relevant lava flows. We used  SENTINEL-1 SAR data acquired at C band and surface local incidence angle obtained from high resolution DEMs,  to study lava flows backscattering coefficient behavior with respect to the incidence angle variation, along with EM formulation. Through fitting theoretical models, scattering laws provided us an estimate for lava flows dielectric properties and roughness. Our research shows a backscattering behavior which changes among different lava flows, in addition we find a seasonal behavior of the backscattering as function of the wet/dry periods of Pacaya. This behavior would not have been detectable without the initial lava flows segmentation, performed before the overall analysis. This selection indeed made possible the study of backscattering coefficient of regions with separately uniform and stationary surface parameters.

How to cite: Murra, A., Mastrogiuseppe, M., Alberti, G., Gambacorta, L., and Seu, R.: Radar backscattering properties of lava flows on Earth and Venus, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-4231,, 2023.