Sinkhole characterization in the Dead Sea area using airborne laser scanning
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Since the early 1980s, the Dead Sea coast has undergone a near catastrophic land deterioration as a result of a rapid lake-level drop. One conspicuous expression of this deterioration is the formation of sinkholes fields that puncture the coastal plains. The evolution of sinkholes along nearly 70-km strip has brought to a halt the regional development in this well-known and toured area and destroyed existing infrastructures. Great efforts are being invested in understanding the phenomena and in development of monitoring techniques. We report in this paper the application of airborne laser scanning for characterization of sinkholes. We demonstrate first the appropriateness of laser scanning for this task and its ability to provide detailed 3D information on this phenomenon. We describe then an autonomous means for their extraction over large regions and with high level of accuracy. Extraction is followed by their detailed geometric characterization. Using this high-resolution data, we show how sinkholes of 0.5 m radius and 25 cm depth can be detected from airborne platforms as well as the geomorphic features surrounding them. These sinkhole measures account for their embryonic stage, allowing tracking them at an early phase of their creation.
KeywordsSinkholes Airborne laser scanning Dead Sea Land degradation
The research was funded in part by grants provided by the Israel Ministry of Science through the Dead Sea and Arava science center, the Israel Ministry of National Infrastructure, the Henri Gutwirth Fund for the Promotion of Research, the Geological Survey of Israel, and by the Israel Science Foundation grant #1539/08 to S. Marco.
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