TAU Researchers Use Satellite Technology to Identify Potential Dead Sea Sinkhole Sites

Advanced prediction techniques boost safety in the region

sinkholes_225x225.jpgSinkholes that form along the shores of the Dead Sea are a severe danger to visitors and residents of this popular region of Israel. Falling into one of these caverns, which measure up to 39 feet in diameter and 65 feet deep, can lead to injury and even death. With several hundred sinkholes forming every year in the region, the risk continues to rise.

Now a team of Israeli researchers including Dr. Alon Ziv of Tel Aviv University's Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences is reducing the dangers posed by the Dead Sea's sinkholes by improving prediction techniques. Knowing when a sinkhole will appear will allow authorities to plan ahead.

Using an earth-observation satellite system known as Cosmo-Skymed, the researchers expect to have a few months' warning before a sinkhole actually appears. The satellite data, which is received by scientists once every 16 days, allows the researchers to measure changes in the ground's surfaces. When the team sees the ground sink in a particular way, they flag the spot as a potential sinkhole site.

Radar waves broadcast by the satellite show even the smallest changes on the Earth's surface within inches. These methods have been used in the past to detect changes in the surface in areas where earthquakes occur and volcanoes erupt.

For the full story on this advanced prediction method for Dead Sea sinkholes, see the Ha'aretz story:
Israeli researchers find new way to predict formation of dangerous Dead Sea sinkholes

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