Proceedings PaperAnalysis of Landsat TM data for active tectonics: the case of the Big Chino Fault, Arizona
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The Big Chino Valley is a 50 km-long tectonic depression of the Basin and Range province of the South- western United States. It is bordered on the NE side by an important normal fault, the Big Chino Fault. The activity of the latter has been hypothesised on the basis of the presence of a 20 m-high fault scarp and on local geomorphological studies. Moreover, a magnitude 4.9 earthquake occurred in southern Arizona in 1976 has been attributed to this fault. The climate in the Big Chino Valley is semi-arid with average rainfall of about 400 mm per year; a very sparse vegetation cover is present, yielding a good possibility for the geo-lithologic application of remote sensing data. The analysis of the TM spectral bands shows, in the short wave infrared, a clear variation in the reflected radiance across the fault scarp. Also the available radar (SLAR) images show a marked difference in response between the two sides of the fault. An explanation of this phenomena has been found in the interaction between the geomorphic evolution, the pedological composition, and the periodic occurrence of coseismic deformation along the fault. Other effects of the latter process have been investigated on colour D- stretched images whose interpretation allowed to detect two paleoseismic events of the Big Chino Fault. This work demonstrates that important information on the seismological parameters of active faults in arid and semiarid climates can be extracted from the analysis of satellite spectral data in the visible and near -infrared.