Geo-environmental terrain assessments and territorial zoning are useful tools for the formulation and implementation of environmental management instruments (including policy-making, planning, and enforcement of statutory regulations). They usually involve a set of procedures and techniques for delimitation, characterisation and classification of terrain units. However, terrain assessments and zoning exercises are often costly and time-consuming, particularly when encompassing large areas, which in many cases prevent local agencies in developing countries from properly benefiting from such assessments. In the present paper, a low-cost technique based on the analysis of texture of satellite imagery was used for delimitation of terrain units. The delimited units were further analysed in two test areas situated in Southeast Brazil to provide estimates of land instability and the vulnerability of groundwater to pollution hazards. The implementation incorporated procedures for inferring the influences and potential implications of tectonic fractures and other discontinuities on ground behaviour and local groundwater flow. Terrain attributes such as degree of fracturing, bedrock lithology and weathered materials were explored as indicators of ground properties. The paper also discusses constraints on- and limitations of- the approaches taken
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