ASSESSING LAND COVER CHANGES CAUSED BY GRANITE QUARRYING USING REMOTE SENSING
Keywords: Remote sensing, Land cover changes, Granite quarries, Landsat, Supervised classification
Abstract. Dimension stone quarrying in the area between Rustenburg and Brits in the North West Province of South Africa has been in existence for over 70 decades. The unique characteristics of the granite deposits in South Africa resulted in making the country a global producer of the granite rocks. This led to intensified quarrying activities between Rustenburg and Brits town. However, this surface mining method, has a potential to impact the environment in a negative way causing loss in vegetation, depletion of natural resources, loss of scenic beauty and contamination of surface water resources. To assess the land cover changes caused by granite quarrying activities, remotely sensed data in the form of Landsat images between 1998 and 2015 were used. Supervised classification was used to create maps. Accuracy assessment using Google EarthTM as a reference data yielded an overall accuracy of 78 %. The post classification change detection method was used to assess land cover changes within the granite quarries. Granite quarries increased by 1174.86 ha while formation of quarry lakes increased to 5.3 ha over the 17-year period. Vegetation cover decreased by 1308 ha in area while 18.3 ha bare land was lost during the same period. This study demonstrated the utility of remote sensing to detect changes in land cover within granite quarries.