El-Sobky, Hesham Farouk (2009-05). Remote sensing studies and morphotectonic investigations in an arid rift setting, Baja California, Mexico. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • The Gulf of California and its surrounding land areas provide a classic example of recently rifted continental lithosphere. The recent tectonic history of eastern Baja California has been dominated by oblique rifting that began at ~12 Ma. Thus, extensional tectonics, bedrock lithology, long-term climatic changes, and evolving surface processes have controlled the tectono-geomorphological evolution of the eastern part of the peninsula since that time. In this study, digital elevation data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) from Baja California were corrected and enhanced by replacing artifacts with real values that were derived using a series of geostatistical techniques. The next step was to generate accurate thematic geologic maps with high resolution (15-m) for the entire eastern coast of Baja California. The main approach that we used to clearly represent all the lithological units in the investigated area was objectoriented classification based on fuzzy logic theory. The area of study was divided into twenty-two blocks; each was classified independently on the basis of its own defined membership function. Overall accuracies were 89.6 %, indicating that this approach was highly recommended over the most conventional classification techniques. The third step of this study was to assess the factors that affected the geomorphologic development along the eastern side of Baja California, where thirty-four drainage basins were extracted from a 15-m-resolution absolute digital elevation model (DEM). Thirty morphometric parameters were extracted; these parameters were then reduced using principal component analysis (PCA). Cluster analysis classification defined four major groups of basins. We extracted stream length-gradient indices, which highlight the differential rock uplift that has occurred along fault escarpments bounding the basins. Also, steepness and concavity indices were extracted for bedrock channels within the thirty-four drainage basins. The results were highly correlated with stream length-gradient indices for each basin. Nine basins, exhibiting steepness index values greater than 0.07, indicated a strong tectonic signature and possible higher uplift rates in these basins. Further, our results indicated that drainage basins in the eastern rift province of Baja California could be classified according to the dominant geomorphologic controlling factors (i.e., faultcontrolled, lithology-controlled, or hybrid basins).

publication date

  • May 2009