Natural Hazards

, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 1135–1154 | Cite as

Sinkhole characterization in the Dead Sea area using airborne laser scanning

  • Sagi FilinEmail author
  • Amit Baruch
  • Yoav Avni
  • Shmuel Marco
Original Paper


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.


Sinkholes 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.


  1. Abelson M, Baer G, Shtivelman V, Wachs D, Raz E, Crouvi O, Kurzon I, Yechieli Y (2003) Collapse-sinkholes and radar interferometry reveal neotectonics concealed within the Dead Sea. Geophy Res Lett 30(10):1545 52-1-4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abelson M, Yechieli Y, Crouvi O, Baer G, Wachs D, Bein A, Shtivelman V (2006) Evolution of the Dead Sea sinkholes. Geol Soc Am Spec Pap 401:241–253Google Scholar
  3. Akel N, Filin S, Doytsher Y (2007) orthogonal polynomials supported by region growing segmentation for the extraction of terrain from LiDAR Data. Photogramm Eng Remote Sensing 73(11):1253–1266Google Scholar
  4. Arkin Y, Gilat A (2000) Dead Sea sinkholes—an ever-developing hazard. Environ Geol 39(7):711–722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baer G, Schattner U, Wachs D, Sandwell D, Wdowinski S, Frydman S (2002) The lowest place on Earth is subsiding—an InSAR (interferometric synthetic aperture radar) perspective. Geol Soc Am Bull 114(1):12–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Besl PJ (1988) Surfaces in range image understanding. Springer–Verlag, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Buttrick D, Schalkwyk AV (1998) Hazard and risk assessment for sinkhole formation on dolomite land in South Africa. Environ Geol 36(1–2):170–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Closson D (2005) Structural control of sinkholes and subsidence hazards along the Jordanian Dead Sea coast. Environ Geol 47:290–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Closson D, Abou Karaki N, Hansen H, Derauw D, Barbier C, Ozer A (2003) Space-borne radar interferometric mapping of precursory deformations of a dyke collapse—Dead Sea area—Jordan. Int J Remote Sens 24(4):843–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hall JK (1994) Digital shaded-relief map of Israel and environs 1:500,000: Israel Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  11. Kass M, Witkin A, Terzopoulos D (1988) Snakes: active contour models. Int J Comput Vis 1:321–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kaufmann O, Quinif Y (2002) Geohazard map of cover-collapse sinkholes in the ‘Tournaisis’ area, southern Belgium. Eng Geol 65:117–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Martínez JD, Johnson KS, Neal JT (1998) Sinkholes in evaporite rocks. Am Sci 86:38–51Google Scholar
  14. Neal JT, Johnson KS (2002) McCauley sink: a compound breccia pipe in evaporite Karst, Holbrook basin, Arizona, USA. Carbonates Evaporites 17:98–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nichol D (1998) Sinkholes at Glan Llyn on the A55 North Wales Coast Road, UK. Eng Geol 50:101–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Salvati R, Sasowsky ID (2002) Development of collapse sinkholes in areas of groundwater discharge. J Hydrol 264(1–4):1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Tharp TM (1999) Mechanics of upward propagation of cover-collapse sinkholes. Eng Geol 52(1–2):23–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Yechieli Y, Abelson M, Wachs D, Shtivelman V, Crouvi O, Baer G (2003) Formation of sinkholes along the shore of the Dead Sea—preliminary investigation. In: Beck BF (ed) 9th Multidisciplinary conference on sinkholes and the engineering and environmental impacts of Karst, Huntsville, Alabama, USA: 184–194Google Scholar
  19. Yechieli Y, Abelson M, Bein A, Crouvi O, Shtivelman V (2006) Sinkhole “swarms” along the Dead Sea coast: reflection of disturbance of lake and adjacent groundwater systems. Geol Soc Am Bull 118(9/10):1075–1087CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sagi Filin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amit Baruch
    • 1
  • Yoav Avni
    • 2
  • Shmuel Marco
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringTechnion - Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Geological Survey of IsraelJerusalemIsrael
  3. 3.Department of Geophysics and Planetary SciencesTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael

Personalised recommendations