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Pre-existing caverns in salt formations could be the major cause of sinkhole hazards along the coast of the Dead Sea

Abstract : Since 1990 hundreds of sinkholes have appeared along the coast of the Dead Sea. In the literature the rapid development of sinkholes is explained as a result of a drop in the level of the Dead Sea. This model assumes very fast dissolution of large volumes of salt and the creation of new caverns that cause sinkholes in 10 to 20 years. However, the results of our geophysical study do not confirm the fast dissolution assumption. To explain the available field observations, we propose the following model: (1) slow dissolution of salt (much longer than 20 years) with the creation of caverns without development of sinkholes; (2) sinkhole development is triggered by the lowering of the groundwater level because the rocks overlying the salt formation become unsaturated; (3) the time of sinkhole appearance is controlled by the mechanical properties of the rocks that overlie pre-existing caverns.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 12:24:34 PM
Last modification on : Friday, September 25, 2020 - 11:02:44 AM

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Anatoly Legchenko, Mikhail Ezersky, Marie Boucher, Christian Camerlynck, Abdallah Al-Zoubi, et al.. Pre-existing caverns in salt formations could be the major cause of sinkhole hazards along the coast of the Dead Sea. Geophysical Research Letters, American Geophysical Union, 2008, 35, pp.L19404. ⟨10.1029/2008GL035510⟩. ⟨insu-00388752⟩

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