• Geophysics used in the Dead Sea sinkhole investigations
  • Model of salt formation is suggested
  • Temporal sinkholes development during 15 years is considered
  • Salt existence in Ghor Al-Haditha is discussed


Since the early 80s, a progressively increasing number of sinkholes appeared along the Dead Sea coastal line. It has been found that their appearance is strongly correlating with the lowering of the Dead Sea level taking place with the rate of approximately 1 m/yr. Location of areas affected by sinkhole development corresponds to location of the salt formation deposited during the latest Pleistocene, when the Lake Lisan receded to later become the Dead Sea. Water flowing to the Dead Sea from adjacent and underlying aquifers dissolves salt and creates caverns that cause ground subsidence and consequent formation of sinkholes. Before subsidence, these caverns are not visible on the surface but can be investigated with surface geophysical methods. For that, we applied Surface Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (SNMR), Transient Electromagnetic (TEM) Seismic refraction and reflection, Multichannel Analysis of Surface waves (MASW), microgravity and magnetic surveys and their combinations. Our geophysical results allowed us to locate the salt formation and to detect caverns in salt thus contributing to better understanding sinkhole development mechanisms. Comparison of sinkhole appearance along the western DS shore derived from the recent database (2017) shows that predictions made on the base of geophysical data (2005-2008) are now confirmed thus demonstrating efficiency of our study. In this paper, we briefly present a summary of up to date knowledge of the geology and hydrogeology of Dead Sea basin, of the physical properties of the salt rock and the most popular models explaining mechanisms of sinkhole development. We also share our experience gained during geophysical studies carried out in the framework of national and international research projects in this area for the last 20 years.



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