Detection of Incipient Sinkholes

Some of the damage from sinkhole formation could be avoided if the location and general time of sinkhole formation could be predicted. At present it may be possible to recognize places where sinkholes may be forming by monitoring for the formation of shallow depressions and extensional cracks on the surface, particularly circular depressions. Building foundations can be examined regularly for new cracks, and distances between slabs on bridges with expansion joints can be monitored to check for expansion related to collapse. Other remote sensing and geophysical methods may prove useful for monitoring sinkhole formation, particularly if the formation of a collapse structure is suspected. shallow seismic waves can detect open spaces, and ground-penetrating radar can map the bedrock surface and look for collapse structures beneath soils. In some cases it may be worthwhile to drill shallow test holes to determine whether there is an open cavity at depth that is propagating toward the surface.

See also cave systems, cave; subsidence.

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