UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis
Email Print

Karstbase Bibliography Database

Walker, D.C.
The use of geophysical techniques in the detection of shallow cavities in limestone, msc thesis
1997

Electromagnetic, resistivity and microgravity techniques were compared for their ability to delineate and resolve shallow natural cavity systems in limestone. Geophysical work was carried out at two field sites. Electromagnetic and resistivity constant-depth profiling surveys were carried out at Kitley Caves in Yealmpton, South Devon, with the purpose of determining the lateral extent of the already partially mapped system. Lower Long Chum Cave in Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire, was used as a control site for the testing of resistivity tomography and microgravity techniques. Several cavities had already been mapped at this site, and were known to be approximately cylindrical passages, with radii of 2-4m within a depth range of 5-20m, in the area to be surveyed.
At Kitley Caves, both the EM31 and resistivity surveys were carried out over a 20x30m grid, approximately 50m west of Western Ton's Quarry. The station interval for the EM31 survey was 2.5m, whereas resistivity readings were taken at 1m intervals. Both techniques identified a linear, low resistivity, anomaly orientated close to the primary joint direction. This feature is interpreted as a sediment-filled fissure, but excavation of the site would be required for verification.
The main Lower Long Chum Cave passage was also identified using EM mapping at 2.5m intervals. Four 155m lines were surveyed using resistivity tomography technique, with 32 electrodes at 5m spacing selected in a Wenner configuration. This survey successfully delineated Diccan Pot and Lower Long Churn caves in the locations and depth ranges expected, and also identified a previously unmapped feature that was interpreted as an air-filled cave or fissure 40m to the south of the main passage. The inversion process caused the features to be horizontally smeared to approximately twice their true dimensions, and in some cases anomalies from separate features were combined.
Lower Long Churn Cave was also successfully delineated using microgravity. Analysis of the residual Bouguer anomaly, combined with two dimensional forward modelling, implied a density contrast of 2.0g/cc, a radius of 2.1m and a depth of 5m. This agreed to within 2.5m with the depth given by resistivity. The position of the tunnel axis found using the two techniques differed by a maximum of 4m.
Resistivity tomography and microgravity were thus concluded to be techniques accurate in the delineation of shallow subsurface cavities. Future improvements in the latter method depend on the development of instruments that are sensitive enough to detect small changes in gravitational acceleration, whilst remaining relatively insensitive to background noise. Resistivity tomography is becoming an increasingly more valuable technique as refinements in the inversion process reduce smearing of anomalous features and improve the accuracy of the subsurface images produced.

karst, electromagnetic, resistivity, microgravity techniques, North Yorkshire