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Proceedings Paper

Estimating the surface age of arid-zone alluvial fans using spaceborne radar data
Author(s): Guy Hetz; Amit Mushkin; Dan G. Blumberg; Gidi Baer
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Paper Abstract

Alluvial fans constitute important recorders of tectonic and climatic signals. Thus, determining the age of alluvial deposits is a common and pivotal component in many quantitative studies of recent tectonic activity, past climatic variations and landscape evolution processes. In this study we build on the established relation between surface age and surface roughness and examine the use of radar backscatter data as a calibrated proxy for constraining the age of alluvial surfaces in such environments. This study was conducted in the hyper-arid environment of the southern Arava rift valley north of the Gulf of Aqaba. ALOS-PALSAR L-Band dual-polarized (i.e., HH, HV) data with different incidence angles (24°, 38°) and resolutions (6.25m, 12.5m) were examined for 11 alluvial surfaces, for which surface ages ranging from 5-160 ka were previously determined. As expected, radar backscatter in such low-relief hyper-arid desert environments responded primarily to SR at pixel-scales and below. Nonetheless, measured backscatter values for single pixels were found to be unsuitable proxies for surface age because of the natural variability in SR across alluvial units of a given age. Instead, we found the statistical properties of radar pixel populations within a given unit to be the most effective proxies for surface age. Our results show that the mean backscatter value within representativeROI’s (region of interest) provided the best predictor for surface age: Lower mean backscatter values correlated well with older and smoother alluvial surfaces. The HHpolarized image with ~38° incidence angle and 6.25 m/pixel resolution allowed the best separation of surface ages. This radar-based approach allows us to quantitatively constrain the age of alluvial surfaces in the studied region at comparable uncertainty to that of “conventional” surface dating techniques commonly used.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 October 2013
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 8891, SAR Image Analysis, Modeling, and Techniques XIII, 88910S (17 October 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2029317
Show Author Affiliations
Guy Hetz, Ben-Gurion Univ. of the Negev (Israel)
Geological Survey of Israel (Israel)
Amit Mushkin, Geological Survey of Israel (Israel)
Dan G. Blumberg, Ben-Gurion Univ. of the Negev (Israel)
Gidi Baer, Geological Survey of Israel (Israel)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8891:
SAR Image Analysis, Modeling, and Techniques XIII
Claudia Notarnicola; Simonetta Paloscia; Nazzareno Pierdicca, Editor(s)

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