Collapse-sinkholes and radar interferometry reveal neotectonics concealed within the Dead Sea basin

Meir Abelson, Gidon Baer, Vladimir Shtivelman, Daniel Wachs, Eli Raz, Onn Crouvi, Ittai Kurzon, Yoseph Yechieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


The Dead Sea (DS) pull-apart basin is one of the more seismically active segments of the DS Transform plate boundary. In the last decade, hundreds of collapse-sinkholes have been formed along the DS coastlines in Israel and Jordan, causing severe damage to the regional infrastructure. The formation of these sinkholes is attributed to the dissolution of a buried salt layer by fresh groundwater due to the drop of the DS and the associated groundwater levels. Here we show that the sinkhole distribution, combined with gradual land subsidence measured by radar interferometry (InSAR) track young fault systems suspected as active, concealed within the fill of the DS rift. This notion is supported by (1) sinkholes clustering along discrete lineaments with a striking trend similarity to that of the exposed rift-margin faults; (2) prominent discontinuities in seismic reflection profiles offsetting young sediments (several kyrs old) below sinkhole lines, and (3) straight boundaries of gradual subsidence features that coincide with or parallel sinkhole lines. Combined, the sinkhole lineaments and the InSAR measurements reveal a zigzag pattern of buried faults within the DS rift fill.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-1 - 52-4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - 15 May 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)


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