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Inception Workshop

On 15 February 2011 a project inception workshop was held at the Council for Geoscience Head Office in Pretoria to discuss the South African Geological Hazards Observation System. The purpose of the workshop as two-fold: 1) to introduce the project to stakeholders, industry partners and potential end-users and 2) to obtain feedback from geoscientsists, earth observation practitioners and potential end-users regarding their requirements of the system.

The workshop was attended by 70 participants representing an integrated group of potential users (30% of participants), remote sensing experts (34% of participants) and geoscientists (36% of participants). The workshop programme included a presentation on the Space Science and Technology Grand Challenge of the DST (presented by Ms. Lerato Senoko from the Department of Science and Technology), and an introduction to the intended South African Geological Hazards Observation System (by Jeanine Engelbrecht from the Council for Geoscience). Following these presentations, Ms. Emma Archer presented the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas as an example of how resources, integrated with the South African Earth Observation Network, can contribute towards the use of databases for the benefit of society. This was followed by presentations on remote sensing technologies and how they contribute to hazards assessment including 1) the fire information system (by Dr. Philip Frost from the CSIR Meraka Institute), 2) remote sensing as applied to geological hazard assessment (by Dr. Karen Joyce from Charles Darwin University) and 3) a case study on the use of remote sensing for surface subsidence monitoring (by Jeanine Engelbrecht from the Council for Geoscience). Finally, an example of the web-based GIS system to be implemented in SAGHOS was presented by Dr. Manie Brynard from the Council for Geoscience. The presentations can be found here.

Following the presentations, workshop attendees were engaged in discussions by breaking into groups for the purpose of answering focussed questionnaires. The questionnaires were focused on 1) end-users, 2) remote sensing practitioners and 3) geoscientists. The feedback received from the respective groups indicated that the system as described in the introductory presentation corresponds well with the needs and expectations of end-users. Geoscientists indicated the need for including several additional geological hazards to the system including ground-water vulnerability, lightning strikes (due to high iron content in rocks), aquifer management and dust pollution from mine dumps into the system. Additionally, floods were also indicated as needing to be included. However, since floods are not regarded as a hazard of geological origin, this hazard will not be included. All groups indicated the need for a long-term monitoring system aimed at geological hazards early warning systems.