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Remote sensing inventory and geospatial analysis of brick kilns and clay quarrying in Kabul, Afghanistan

March 11, 2021
Reconstruction and urban development in Kabul, Afghanistan, has prompted vast expansion of the clay quarrying and brick making industry. This study identified the extent and distribution of clay quarrying and brick kilns in the greater Kabul area between 1965 and 2018. Very high-resolution satellite imagery was interpreted to quantify and characterize the type, number, and location of brick kilns for 1965, 2004, 2011, and 2018. Geospatial analysis of kilns together with geologic data and the results of hyperspectral image analysis yielded information regarding the extent of relevant mineral resources. Finally, kernel density analysis of kiln locations for each date called attention to their shifting spatial distribution. The study found that the clay quarrying and brick making industry has expanded exponentially. The type of kilns has transitioned from artisanal style clamp kilns to small-scale Bull’s Trench Kilns (BTK), and ultimately to Fixed Chimney Bull’s Trench Kilns (FCBTK). While quarrying has occurred entirely within quaternary windblown loess and clay deposits, artisanal clamp kilns were located in fine sediments containing montmorillonite and FCBTKs have developed in sediments containing calcite and muscovite. The study’s inventory of kilns was then used to estimate kiln workforce at 27,500 workers and production at 1.579 billion bricks per year. 

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