Articles | Volume 7, issue 2
Solid Earth, 7, 323–340, 2016
Solid Earth, 7, 323–340, 2016

Research article 04 Mar 2016

Research article | 04 Mar 2016

3-D visualisation of palaeoseismic trench stratigraphy and trench logging using terrestrial remote sensing and GPR – a multiparametric interpretation

Sascha Schneiderwind1, Jack Mason1, Thomas Wiatr2, Ioannis Papanikolaou3, and Klaus Reicherter1 Sascha Schneiderwind et al.
  • 1Institute of Neotectonics and Natural Hazards, RWTH Aachen University, Lochnerstraße 4-20, 52056 Aachen, Germany
  • 2Fundamental matters/Division GI, Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy, Richard-Strauss-Allee 11, 60598 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 3Laboratory Mineralogy – Geology, Agricultural University of Athens, Iera Odos 75, 11855 Athens, Greece

Abstract. Two normal faults on the island of Crete and mainland Greece were studied to test an innovative workflow with the goal of obtaining a more objective palaeoseismic trench log, and a 3-D view of the sedimentary architecture within the trench walls. Sedimentary feature geometries in palaeoseismic trenches are related to palaeoearthquake magnitudes which are used in seismic hazard assessments. If the geometry of these sedimentary features can be more representatively measured, seismic hazard assessments can be improved. In this study more representative measurements of sedimentary features are achieved by combining classical palaeoseismic trenching techniques with multispectral approaches. A conventional trench log was firstly compared to results of ISO (iterative self-organising) cluster analysis of a true colour photomosaic representing the spectrum of visible light. Photomosaic acquisition disadvantages (e.g. illumination) were addressed by complementing the data set with active near-infrared backscatter signal image from t-LiDAR measurements. The multispectral analysis shows that distinct layers can be identified and it compares well with the conventional trench log. According to this, a distinction of adjacent stratigraphic units was enabled by their particular multispectral composition signature. Based on the trench log, a 3-D interpretation of attached 2-D ground-penetrating radar (GPR) profiles collected on the vertical trench wall was then possible. This is highly beneficial for measuring representative layer thicknesses, displacements, and geometries at depth within the trench wall. Thus, misinterpretation due to cutting effects is minimised. This manuscript combines multiparametric approaches and shows (i) how a 3-D visualisation of palaeoseismic trench stratigraphy and logging can be accomplished by combining t-LiDAR and GPR techniques, and (ii) how a multispectral digital analysis can offer additional advantages to interpret palaeoseismic and stratigraphic data. The multispectral data sets are stored allowing unbiased input for future (re)investigations.

Short summary
Palaeoseismological research uses historical earthquakes to verify seismic hazard assessment. Earthquakes of magnitude M > 5.5 likely produce surface ruptures that can be preserved in the subsurface. Buried soils or progressive displacements are the main targets of trenching studies. However, the recognition of these features is challenging for inexperienced researchers. Here a workflow is presented which applies remote sensing and geophysical techniques to verify layer distinction.