Subsurface imaging in south-central Egypt using low-frequency radar: Bir Safsaf revisited

Philippe Paillou, Gilles Grandjean, Nicolas Baghdadi, Essam Heggy, Thomas August-Bernex, José Achache

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Citations (Scopus)


We present the capabilities of low-frequency radar systems to sound the subsurface for a site located in south-central Egypt, the Bir Safsaf region. This site was already intensively studied since the SIR-A and SIR-B orbital radars revealed buried paleodrainage channels. Our approach is based on the coupling between two complementary radar techniques: the orbital synthetic aperture radar (SAR) in C and L bands (5.3 and 1.25 GHz) for imaging large-scale subsurface structures, and the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) at 500 and 900 MHz for sounding the soil at a local scale. We show that the total backscattered power computed from L-band SAR and 900-MHz GPR profiles can be correlated, and we combined both data to derive the geological structure of the subsurface. GPR data provide information on the geometry of the buried scatterers and layers, while the analysis of polarimetric SAR data provides information on the distribution of rocks in the sedimentary layers and at the interface between these layers. The analysis of 500-MHz GPR data revealed some deeper structures that should be detected by lower frequency SARs, such as a P-band system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1672-1684
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number7 PART I
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes



  • Egyptian desert
  • Ground-penetrating radar
  • Imaging radar
  • Paleohydrology
  • Subsurface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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