Evaporite karst throughout the Gypsum Plain of west Texas is complex and extensive, including manifestations ranging from intrastratal brecciation and hypogene caves to epigene features and suffosion caves. Recent advances in hydrocarbon exploration and extraction has resulted in increased infrastructure development and utilization in the area; as a result, delineation and characterization of potential karst geohazards throughout the region have become a greater concern. While traditional karst surveys are essential for delineating the subsurface extent and morphology of individual caves for speleogenetic interpretation, these methods tend to underestimate the total extent of karst development and require surficial manifestation of karst phenomena. Therefore, this study utilizes a composite suite of remote sensing and traditional field studies for improved karst delineation and detection of potential karst geohazards within gypsum karst. Color InfraRed (CIR) imagery were utilized for delineation of lineaments associated with fractures, while Normalized Density Vegetation Index (NDVI) analyses were used to delineate regions of increased moisture flux and probable zones of shallow karst development. Digital Elevation Models (DEM) constructed from high-resolution LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data were used to spatially interpret sinkholes, while analyses of LiDAR intensity data were used in a novel way to categorize local variations in surface geology. Resistivity data, including both direct current (DC) and capacitively coupled (CC) resistivity analyses, were acquired and interpreted throughout the study area to delineate potential shallow karst geohazards specifically associated with roadways of geohazard concern; however, detailed knowledge of the surrounding geology and local karst development proved essential for proper interpretation of resistivity inversions. The composite suite of traditional field investigations and remotely sensed karst delineations used in this study illustrate how complex gypsum karst terrains can be characterized with greater detail through the utilization of rapidly advancing technologies, especially in arid environments with low vegetation densities.
Stafford, Kevin W.; Brown, Wesley A.; Ehrhart, Jon T.; Majzoub, Adam F.; and Woodard, Jonathan D., "Evaporite karst geohazards in the Delaware Basin, Texas: review of traditional karst studies coupled with geophysical and remote sensing characterization" (2017). Faculty Publications. 17.