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Solving Three Problems of Exploration and Engineering Geology by Digital Terrain Analysis

I.V. Florinsky


In the smooth-surface approximation, local accumulation of a flow is controlled by relative deceleration and convergence. Flow deceleration is determined by vertical curvature of the land surface, while flow convergence is controlled by horizontal curvature. There is a concurrent action of flow convergence and relative deceleration at areas marked by negative values of both of these curvatures. These areas are said to be relative accumulation zones. We describe basic principles of applying maps of relative accumulation zones to solve three problems of exploration and engineering geology: (1) exploration of alluvial placers; (2) prediction of landsliding on reservoir shores; and (3) prediction of soil degradation and contamination along pipelines. The deposition of placer minerals is most likely to occur in relative accumulation zones with slope steepness below 3°, all other factors being equal. The activation of slope instability is most probably to occur in relative accumulation zones with slope steepness beyond 15°, which are adjacent to, upslope the reservoir water level. Soil degradation (waterlogging and salinisation) may be observed in relative accumulation zones adjacent to, upslope a pipeline. After the pipeline failure, one can use a map of specific catchment area to determine paths of lateral migration of petroleum in the landscape. Petroleum products are most likely to concentrate in relative accumulation zones situated along a flow line originating at a pipeline hole. To refine the prediction, one should analyse accumulation zone maps together with geological, geophysical, geochemical, soil, plant, and remotely sensed data as well as with models of other topographic variables

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