Dead Sea Research Venue - Investigation of recent sinkhole processes around the Dead Sea

Sinkhole clusters have developed increasingly on the shores of the Dead Sea in the last 30 years or more, and caused considerable damage to the infrastructure and populated and agriculturally used areas. The cause was thought to be the dissolution (subrosion) of massive salt horizons with thicknesses of several metres located in the underground. The subrosion was thought to be controlled by the anthropogenically-caused drop in the sea level of the Dead Sea by approx. 1 m/year, and the associated advance of the freshwater front.

 As an associated partner of the virtual Helmholtz Research Institute DESERVE (DEad SEa Research VEnue), LIAG carried out high-resolution shear-wave seismic surveys in 2013-2016, to investigate the salt horizons in the Ghor Al-Haditha landslide location in Jordan.

The findings reveal that the suspected active subrosion of massive salt horizons does not apply at this location. The findings are backed up by drilling results and surface observations that actually indicate a new process model in which fine-grained, water-soluble marine sediments from the Dead Sea (Dead Sea mud) are flushed out of the underground formations by seasonal groundwater, which create cavities that then breakthrough to the surface in the form of sinkholes.

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