Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 89–99 | Cite as

Recognition and mapping of lacustrine relict coastal features using high resolution aerial photographs and LiDAR data

  • C. CastañedaEmail author
  • F. J. Gracia


Shallow lakes in semiarid regions experience frequent water level fluctuations. Each long-lasting episode of water-level lowering leaves behind abandoned littoral forms and deposits whose identification and mapping is hampered by their smooth relief. Given the difficulty of recognising these possible relict forms using traditional geomorphological techniques, two sources of information were employed in the present work: high resolution (1:15,000) aerial photographs and a digital terrain model (DTM) generated from LiDAR data. The improved definition of surface elevation enhanced the quality of geomorphological mapping as well as the accurate delineation of subtle geoforms. The method was applied to Gallocanta Lake, a highly fluctuating shallow lake 14 km2 in area and less than 3 m deep located in a mountainous semiarid area of NE Spain. As a result, a sequence of relict coastal features (RCF) with high lateral continuity has been identified around the lakebed. These include well-preserved spits with recurved hooks, counter-spits, bays closed by barrier islands, beach ridges, deltas and cliffs. The highly precise LiDAR-derived topographic maps suggest a much greater extension of the lacustrine environment during the Late Pleistocene, reaching at least 51 km2 of water surface and about 13 m of depth above the present lake bottom. The method presented in this paper generates very detailed palaeogeographical maps that are particularly useful for reconstructing lake changes in semiarid environments as a function of climate change.


DEM Coastal mapping Lake margin Photointerpretation 



This work has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) under the project PCIN-2014-106 and by the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) under the project i-COOP-2016SU0015. Two anonymous reviewers and the Editor have helped to improve the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Estación Experimental de Aula DeiEEAD-CSICSaragossaSpain
  2. 2.Dpto. Ciencias de la Tierra, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y AmbientalesUniversidad de CádizPuerto RealSpain

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