Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 66 Number 1: 9-17 - April 2004

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Comparison of a new GIS based technique and a manual method for determining sinkhole density: An example from Illinois' sinkhole plain
Julie C. Angel, Daniel O. Nelson, and Samuel V. Panno


A new Geographic Information System (GIS) method was developed as an alternative to the hand-counting of sinkholes on topographic maps for density and distribution studies. Sinkhole counts were prepared by hand and compared to those generated from USGS DLG data using ArcView 3.2 and the ArcInfo Workstation component of ArcGIS 8.1 software. The study area for this investigation, chosen for its great density of sinkholes, included the 42 public land survey sections that reside entirely within the Renault Quadrangle in southwestern Illinois.

Differences between the sinkhole counts derived from the two methods for the Renault Quadrangle study area were negligible. Although the initial development and refinement of the GIS method required considerably more time than counting sinkholes by hand, the flexibility of the GIS method is expected to provide significant long-term benefits and time savings when mapping larger areas and expanding research efforts.

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