Monday, February 6, 2017

From one desert to another

With the intent of returning to the image misregistration issue once I'm back from Québec, I've been switching gears into proposal-writing mode.

Catherine and I have discussed the possibility of extending our work to compare and contrast our Axel Heiberg Island diapirs to those in the Zagros Mountains, Iran. I have frequently referred to Axel Heiberg Island as "having the second highest concentration of salt diapirs in the world".  Well, Iran has the first-highest concentration of salt diapirs in the world.  These two sites would be interesting to compare for multiple reasons.

1. They are both desert environments, meaning that radar signals are less likely to be affected by soil moisture or obstructed by vegetation.
2. They are different types of desert environment.  Axel Heiberg Island is a polar desert, where cryoturbation is the predominant weathering mechanism.  Iran is a hot desert, with aeolian processes, gravity-driven mass movements, and periodic flashflooding as predominant weathering mechanisms. Different erosion mechanisms may lend to observable differences in surface roughness of the diapirs and surrounding rock units.
3. The diapirs have different compositions.  The salts on Axel Heiberg Island are predominantly anhydrite (CaSO4) weathering to gypsum (CaSO4 * H2O), whereas the salts in Iran are more classic halite rock salt (NaCl). Both salts are soft and soluble, but have different crystal structures which may lend to different radar responses and erosion patterns.

To initiate this change of pace, Catherine has asked me to write a draft proposal for the CSA's SOAR-E program.  RADARSAT-2 images aren't free, so this program let's us pitch our wonderful science ideas to the CSA and request access to their data.  I have not written a proposal before, so this is a slightly intimidating, but beneficial, experience.

Unfortunately there do not appear to be any PALSAR-1 Quad-Pol acquisitions over Iran, so we will not be able perform the same comparison between C-band and L-band for the Iranian diapirs.

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