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Title: Rapid subsidence in damaging sinkholes: measurement by high-precision leveling and the role of salt dissolution
Authors: Desir, Gloria
Gutiérrez, Francisco Javier
Merino, J.
Carbonel, Domingo
Benito-Calvo, Alfonso
Guerrero, Jesús
Fabregat González, Iván
Keywords: Subsidence monitoring;Sagging;Collapse;High-precision leveling;Transportation infrastructure;Early warning
Issue Date: Feb-2018
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Geomorphology, 2018, 303, 393-409
Abstract: Investigations dealing with subsidence monitoring in active sinkholes are very scarce, especially when compared with other ground instability phenomena like landslides. This is largely related to the catastrophic behaviour that typifies most sinkholes in carbonate karst areas. Active subsidence in five sinkholes up to ca. 500 m across has been quantitatively characterised by means of high-precision differential leveling. The sinkholes occur on poorly indurated alluvium underlain by salt-bearing evaporites and cause severe damage on various human structures. The leveling data have provided accurate information on multiple features of the subsidence phenomena with practical implications: (1) precise location of the vaguely-defined edges of the subsidence zones and their spatial relationships with surveyed surface deformation features; (2) spatial deformation patterns and relative contribution of subsidence mechanisms (sagging versus collapse); (3) accurate subsidence rates and their spatial variability with maximum and mean vertical displacement rates ranging from 1.0 to 11.8 cm/yr and 1.9 to 26.1 cm/yr, respectively; (4) identification of sinkholes that experience continuous subsidence at constant rates or with significant temporal changes; and (5) rates of volumetric surface changes as an approximation to rates of dissolution-induced volumetric depletion in the subsurface, reaching as much as 10,900 m3/yr in the largest sinkhole. The high subsidence rates as well as the annual volumetric changes are attributed to rapid dissolution of high-solubility salts.
ISSN: 0169-555X
DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.12.004
Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Geocronología y Geología

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