, Volume 39, Issue 11, pp 1237-1253

Sinkhole hazards along the eastern Dead Sea shoreline area, Jordan: a geological and geotechnical consideration

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Abstract

For the last four decades, the level of the Dead Sea has been subjected to continual variation which, among other important factors, has led to the occurrence of much subsidence and many sinkholes in the southern Dead Sea area. Sinkhole activities occurred repetitively and were observed in open farms, across roads, near dwellings and near an existing factory, thus causing a serious threat to the locals and farmers of the area and their properties. This paper presents the main results from detailed geological and geotechnical studies of this area. Aerial photo interpretation and borehole drilling aided these studies. Parallel geophysical investigations (vertical electrical sounding and seismic refraction) and hydrological and hydrogeological studies were made by others in the same area to also investigate this phenomenon. It was found that sinkholes are aligned to and follow old water channels and are concentrated parallel to the recent shoreline of the Dead Sea. The development of subsurface cavities is associated mainly with the variation in the level of the Dead Sea over the four past decades, the presence of regional salt intrusion under the surface of salt beds, the fluctuation of the water table and continuous dissolution and the active tectonism of the area. Moreover, this work showed that the area is still under active sinkhole hazards and other parts of the area will be inevitably affected by sinkholes in the future.No practical engineering solution to this problem is feasible.

Received: 1 July 1999 / Accepted: 11 October 1999