EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Integrated reflection seismics, 3D-GPR, leveling, DInSAR to detect and characterize high-risk sinkholes in urban cover evaporite karst. A NE Italian case study.

Alice Busetti1, Chiara Calligaris1, Emanuele Forte1, Giulia Areggi1, Arianna Mocnik2, and Luca Zini1
Alice Busetti et al.
  • 1University of Trieste, Department of Mathematics and geosciences, Trieste, Italy (;;;;
  • 2Esplora Srl, Trieste, Italy (

Sinkholes linked to cover evaporite karst in urban environments still represent a challenge in terms of clear identification and mapping considering the anthropic rehash and the presence of man-made structures.

We propose and tested a methodology to identify the subsiding features in an urban area within a cover evaporite karst environment, through an integrated and non-invasive multi-scale approach combining seismic reflection, DInSAR, leveling and full 3D GPR.

The analysis was conducted in a small village in the Tagliamento valley (Friuli Venezia Giulia region, NE Italy) named Quinis, where sinkholes are reported since a long time as well as the hazard linked to their presence: within the years, several houses have been demolished and at present many of them are damaged.

First we applied each methodology independently and after we compared, combined and integrated them to obtain more coherent and cross-validates results. Seismic reflection imagined the covered karst bedrock identifying three depocenters; DInSAR investigation allowed to identify an area with higher vertical velocities; leveling data presented a downward displacement comparable with DInSAR results; 3D GPR, applied here for the first time in the study and characterization of sinkholes, clearly defined shallow sinking features imaging also under a shallow dense pipe network. Combining all the obtained results with accurate field observations we identified and map the highest vulnerable zones.

The final result is the combining of the geophysical, DInSAR and leveling information, while also locating the damaged buildings, the local asphalt pavement breaks or renovation and the buildings which are nowadays demolished, by using vintage photographs and historical maps. The data are consistent, being the most relevant present damages and the demolished building within the zones with higher sinking velocity on the base of both leveling and DInSAR. Geophysically imaged depocenters lie within the most critical area and perfectly correlate with the local pavement damages.

In a complex geological and hydrological framework, as in the study area, a multidisciplinary and multi-scale approach is mandatory to identify and map the zone most affected by sinking phenomena. While punctual data such as borehole stratigraphy, local groundwater level variations with time, extensometers measurements and geotechnical parameters are useful to highlight local hazard due to occurring deformation, the proposed integrated methodology addresses a complete and quantitative assessment of the vulnerability of the area. It’s fundamental, especially in anthropized environments, using different integrated techniques, without forgetting the role of the fieldwork of the geologists who can detect the precursors or already occurred, even elusive, signs of the ongoing or incipient sinking.

How to cite: Busetti, A., Calligaris, C., Forte, E., Areggi, G., Mocnik, A., and Zini, L.: Integrated reflection seismics, 3D-GPR, leveling, DInSAR to detect and characterize high-risk sinkholes in urban cover evaporite karst. A NE Italian case study., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10837,, 2021.


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