Using a UAV and a multispectral sensor to understand Paleoliquefaction deposits in the New Madrid Seismic Zone

Authors: Stephanie Rogers*, Auburn University Department of Geosciences, Lorraine Wolf, Auburn University Department of Geosciences
Topics: UAS / UAV
Keywords: UAV, UAS, New Madrid Seismic Zone, paleoliquefaction
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Governors Square 14, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study was undertaken as a proof-of-concept to obtain new knowledge of earthquake-induced paleoliquefaction deposits in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). Paleoliquefaction deposits are prehistoric sand blow deposits and large sand-filled fissures formed as the result of strong ground shaking from prehistoric earthquakes. They serve as the principle source of information about the occurrence of large (magnitude (M) > 6) earthquakes. Establishing earthquake history and identifying the seismic sources (i.e., faults) are critical for estimating the region’s seismic hazard and the recurrence times of large, damaging earthquakes. In the NMSZ, a large earthquake could affect the cities and towns within the Mississippi River valley, including the metropolises of Memphis and St. Louis. UAV assisted geophysical fieldwork will take place in November 2019 in Blytheville, AK. A Phantom 4 Pro UAV with an additional Parrot Sequoia multispectral sensor will be used to 1) collect high resolution aerial imagery (RGB) to obtain a broad overview of the study site and produce orthomosaics and Digital Surface Models (DSMs); and 2) collect multispectral images in the Near-Infrared and Red-Edge wavelengths to calculate indices to distinguish between soil development in sand blows as a potential dating mechanism. We expect that results will allow us to determine the timing of prehistoric earthquakes, and in turn, provide repeat times from large earthquakes in the region. In addition, if the new methodology proves robust in this application, it can be applied as a rapid reconnaissance tool for finding ground failure features associated with modern earthquake-generating faults.

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