Articles | Volume 15, issue 11
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 2439–2448, 2015
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 2439–2448, 2015

Research article 02 Nov 2015

Research article | 02 Nov 2015

Railway deformation detected by DInSAR over active sinkholes in the Ebro Valley evaporite karst, Spain

J. P. Galve1, C. Castañeda2, and F. Gutiérrez3 J. P. Galve et al.
  • 1Departamento de Geodinámica, Universidad de Granada, Campus de Fuentenueva s/n, 18071 Granada, Spain
  • 2Estación Experimental de Aula Dei, EEAD-CSIC, Ave. Montañana 1005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
  • 3Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra, Universidad de Zaragoza, C/Pedro Cerbuna 12, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain

Abstract. Subsidence was measured for the first time on railway tracks in the central sector of Ebro Valley (NE Spain) using Differential Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (DInSAR) techniques. This area is affected by evaporite karst and the analysed railway corridors traverse active sinkholes that produce deformations in these infrastructures. One of the railway tracks affected by slight settlements is the Madrid–Barcelona high-speed line, a form of transport infrastructure highly vulnerable to ground deformation processes. Our analysis based on DInSAR measurements and geomorphological surveys indicates that this line shows dissolution-induced subsidence and compaction of anthropogenic deposits (infills and embankments). Significant sinkhole-related subsidence was also measured by DInSAR techniques on the Castejón–Zaragoza conventional railway line. This study demonstrates that DInSAR velocity maps, coupled with detailed geomorphological surveys, may help in the identification of the railway track sections that are affected by active subsidence.

Short summary
The bedrock of the Ebro Valley consists of soluble geological formations of evaporites. The subsurface dissolution of these rocks makes this area particularly prone to the development of sinkholes. These show subsidence that causes damage to man-made structures. The article focuss on the subsidence detected along railways that traverse sinkholes. DInSAR analysis may help in the identification of subsiding sectors of railway tracks that may compromise the safety of travellers.
Final-revised paper