A sinkhole near the Ein Gedi Spa on the shores of the Dead Sea.
Hazardous sinkholes started to appear in alluvial fans and unconsolidated sediments along the western Dead Sea coast in 1990.
Since then hundreds of sinkholes have appeared from north to south along the shoreline. The Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) method was used to achieve a better understanding of the subsurface geoelectric structure at the sinkhole development sites, taking into account that electric parameters (such as resistivity or conductivity) are very sensitive to formation properties and their variations in time.
Fifteen image lines were surveyed at the Ein Gedi area during a period of active sinkhole development (in 2001–2002) over an area of 300×550 m2. Resistivity cross-sections and maps were constructed from 2-D linear surveys. The process of sinkhole formation in the surveyed area is located in a strip 50–70 m wide and 300–500 m long, extending approximately in a north–south direction. The sinkholes are arranged along a tortuous line within this strip. On resistivity maps and sections this U-shaped zone appears as an alternation of high resistivity anomalies of 350–1000 Ωm (at sinkhole group locations) with narrow background resistivity zones of 50–100 Ωm. The large size of resistivity anomalies (250×300 m2), which are considerably greater than those of the sinkholes, form one of the features of the sinkhole sites in the Ein Gedi area. The anomalies continue down to the water table or even deeper (maximum of 25–35 m depth). A low resistivity layer of 1–8 Ωm underlies them. The combined analysis of the image results and other geophysical data shows that high resistivity anomalies are associated with the decompaction of the soil mass at the sinkhole development sites and surrounding areas. Recent studies have shown that sinkholes in the Ein Gedi area are developing along the salt western edge located at a depth of 50 m. The subsurface high resistivity anomaly conforms to the sinkhole line (and salt boundary). They are presumably located above the great dissolution caverns at the salt edge. The heterogeneity of the resistivity structure within the high resistivity anomaly (seen in both lateral and vertical planes) confirms that a disintegration of internal formation structure takes place. Away from the sinkhole sites the subsurface resistivity distribution is homogeneous.