Mapping Active Faults in the Houston Area Using LIDAR Data
Richard M. Engelkemeir1, Shuhab D. Khan2, and Carl Norman2
1 University of Houston; Schlumberger Information Systems, Houston, TX
2 University of Houston, Houston, TX
Over 300 active faults intersect the earth's surface in the Houston Metropolitan area. They cause damage to man-made structures such as roads, pipelines and buildings. We used LIDAR DEM images from the 2002 Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project (TSARP) to examine known faults and to search for others that may have been overlooked in previous studies. We used hill-shading as the primary visualization method for locating the faults. Later we examined them in the field. At some locations fault deformation and associated damage were evident, while in other locations field expression of the fault was subtle and the presence of a fault was difficult to confirm. In some areas we used refined grids, using both raw data and supplied DEM, to better define known faults and to identify previously unknown faults.
Proper documentation of active surface faults is important so that developers can avoid building in the zone of disturbed ground along them. In some cases developers and builders have taken steps to avoid construction on fault traces, often by leaving the land as an open greenbelt or as a storm water detention pond. In other cases structures have been built unknowingly within fault hazard bands.