Abstract

The Dead Sea (DS) coastal areas have been dramatically hit by sinkhole occurrences since around 1990. It has been shown that the sinkholes along both Israeli and Jordanian shorelines are linked to evaporate karst cavities that are formed by slow salt dissolution. Both the timing and location of sinkholes suggest that: 1) the salt weakens as the result of unsaturated water circulation, thus enhancing the karstification process; and 2) sinkholes appear to be related to the decompaction of the sediments above karstified zones. The location, depth, thickness and weakening of salt layers along the DS shorelines, as well as the thickness and mechanical properties of the upper sedimentary deposits, are thus considered as controlling factors of this on-going process. The knowledge of shear-wave velocities (Vs) should add valuable insights on mechanical properties of both the salt and its overburden. We have suggested Vs estimation using surface-wave prospecting methods, based on surface-wave dispersion measurements and inversion. Two approaches have been used. Along the Israeli shoreline, Vs mapping has been performed to discriminate weak and hard zones within salt layers, after calibration of inverted Vs near boreholes. It has been shown that there is a Vs increase in the DS direction. Initially examined weak zones, located near the salt edge, associated with karstified salt, are characterized by Vs values of 760–1,050 m/s, and extend 60–100 m from the salt edge in the DS direction. Hard salt zones with velocity Vs values greater than 1,500 m/s are located at distances of more than 100–220 m from the salt edge. Finally, transition zones (1,050 < Vs < 1,500 m/s) have a 40–160 m spread. On a Jordanian site, roll-along acquisition and dispersion stacking has been performed to achieve multi-modal dispersion measurements along linear profiles. Inverted pseudo-2-D Vs sections present low Vs anomalies in the vicinity of existing sinkholes and made it possible to detect decompacted sediments associated with potential sinkhole occurrences. Moreover, Vs profiles showed a high velocity unit at 40–50 m depth that can be interpreted as a salt layer.

You do not currently have access to this article.