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Merged remotely sensed data for geomorphological investigations in deserts: examples from central Saudi Arabia

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Image merging has gained acceptance in geological remote sensing, however it has rarely been applied in geomorphology. We report on the usefulness of principal components substitution (PCS) to merge IRS panchromatic data with multispectral Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery, to map commonly encountered desert geomorphological features, and in relative age dating of alluvial surfaces. The merged data were applied to the identification and mapping of geomorphological features along two geolo-gically different mountain fronts in central Saudi Arabia. Two types of geomorphological maps have been created. A morphogenetic map that distinguishes between aeolian landforms, fluvial landforms, desert pavements, and gypsum crusts. Second, a morphochronological map, which shows the relative age of four geomorphic surfaces developed on an alluvial fan. The construction of the two maps is supported by field observations and laboratory measurements. Using the optimum index factor (OIF), a TM band 1, 5 and 7 image (of 20 merged composites) was found to be the optimum colour composite image for the geomorphological features in this arid environment. We discuss our findings in the context of the spatial and spectral properties required for applied geomorphological remote sensing.
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Keywords: Saudi Arabia; applied geomorphology; desert environments; image merging; optimum index factor; remote sensing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RHs: ; [email protected]; [email protected], Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 June 2003

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