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Featured article from geoscience journal

Geomorphology, 2011, Vol 134, Issue 1, p. 102-117
The Dead Sea sinkhole hazard: Geophysical assessment of salt dissolution and collapse
Abstract:

A geophysical approach is presented for analyzing processes of subsurface salt dissolution and associated sinkhole hazard along the Dead Sea. The implemented methods include Seismic Refraction (SRFR), Transient Electromagnetic Method (TEM), Electric Resistivity Tomography (ERT), and Ground Penetration Radar (GPR). The combination of these methods allows the delineation of the salt layer boundaries, estimating its porosity distribution, finding cavities within the salt layer, and identifying deformations in the overlying sediments. This approach is shown to be useful for anticipating the occurrence of specific sinkholes, as demonstrated on both shores of the Dead Sea. These sinkholes are observed mainly along the edge of a salt layer deposited during the latest Pleistocene, when Lake Lisan receded to later become the Dead Sea. This salt layer is dissolved by aggressive water flowing from adjacent and underlying aquifers which drain to the Dead Sea. Sinkhole formation is accelerating today due to the rapid fall of the Dead Sea levels during the last 30 years, caused by anthropogenic use of its water.