American Society of Civil Engineers

Engineering-Geological and Geomechanical Analysis for the Fracture Origin of Sinkholes in the Realm of a High Velocity Railway Line

by Herward Molek, (Prof., Dr.-Ing., Darmstadt University of Technology, Institute for Applied Geosciences, 64287 Darmstadt, Schnittspahnstraße 9)
Section: Engineering Transportation Infrastructure in Karst, pp. 551-558, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Karst (2003)
Abstract: In many countries, specific subterranean karst phenomena are caused by cavern development in carbonate, gypsum and chloride beds, covered by sediments and rocks. Apart from the early realization of an endangered situation within the scope of site investigations, especially a proof for the possibility of karst cavities openings and the formation of sinkholes at the earth’s surface is important. By an example of analytic geomechanical modelling, the formation of sinkholes, caused by deep sulfate karst, shall be calculated. To answer the question, if sinkholes may form at the earth’s surface after the collapse of cavities in a known depth, two realistic geomechanical models are used for the fracture process: formation of a fracture arch and formation of a progressive failure. Regarding the calculations results, it is to state that already small cavities in a depth of 30 m may break though to the earth’s surface. Accordingly, constructional reinforcements had to be included in the planning.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Railroad tracks