Skip to main content
Using ALSM to Map Sinkholes in the Urbanized Covered Karst of Pinellas County, Florida—2. Accuracy Statistics
Environmental Geology
  • H. Len Vacher, University of South Florida
  • Larry D. Seale, University of South Florida
  • Lee J. Florea, University of South Florida
  • Robert Brinkmann, University of South Flori
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Pinellas County,
  • Florida,
  • sinkhole
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

We apply the logic of clinical epidemiological studies to quantify the accuracy of mapping sinkholes by ALSM in the 750 km2 Pinellas County. By such studies, a new diagnostic procedure is tested by comparing the diagnoses in a clinical trial to diagnoses on the same patients from a more reliable, but more elaborate and expensive procedure (“gold standard” in epidemiological context). A relatively undeveloped, 65 km2 focus area where we have aerial photographs that are effectively contemporaneous with the ALSM flights serves as the “clinical trial”. The xy-locations in the focus area are the “patients” in the trial. The “diagnostic test” for having “sinkhole disease” is inclusion in a database of sinkhole polygons delimited by ALSM contours (“ALSM-alone”), as detailed in Part 1. The standard of comparison (“gold standard” would be an overstatement in the absence of geophysical testing) is inclusion in a database of sinkhole outlines derived by best judgment of conjunctive interpretation of ALSM and aerial photography. GIS intersections that indicate the sensitivity and specificity of the test (ALSM-alone) are 43 and 98.3%, respectively, and, in the focus area where the prevalence of “sinkhole disease” is 4.7%, the positive and negative predictive values are 55.5 and 97.2%, respectively. Over much of the rest of the county, where only the test can be applied, the prevalence of sinkholes is sufficiently small that it cannot be determined to be any different from zero given the paucity of interpreted sinkholes (positive diagnoses) and the low specificity of the test method. The conclusion, therefore, is that contemporaneous aerial photography is essential to compile an ALSM-derived database that aims to state that the given xy-points lay inside or outside of topographic depressions in the covered karst of west-central Florida.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Environmental Geology, v. 54, issue 5, p. 1007-1015

Citation Information
H. Len Vacher, Larry D. Seale, Lee J. Florea and Robert Brinkmann. "Using ALSM to Map Sinkholes in the Urbanized Covered Karst of Pinellas County, Florida—2. Accuracy Statistics" Environmental Geology Vol. 54 Iss. 5 (2008) p. 1007 - 1015
Available at: