Articles | Volume 4, issue 4
30 Sep 2004
30 Sep 2004

Use of resistivity measurements to detect urban caves in Mexico City and to assess the related hazard

R. G. Antonio-Carpio, M. A. Pérez-Flores, D. Camargo-Guzmán, and A. Alanís-Alcantar

Abstract. In the XIX century when Mexico City was much smaller than at present, there was non-regulated mining of building materials in a region of tuffs northwest of the city in an inhabited countryside. With the growth of the city during the XX century, this region was increasingly populated and in the 1970's many two-level bricks houses were built, without regard for underground caves created by the earlier extractions. Some ground sinkings in adjacent areas alarmed the residents who now are worried about this permanent hazard. An association of residents contracted a private company for a geophysical study in order to know the distribution of the caves.

Resistivity measurements were taken in the area to detect the caves in order to alert city authorities. Resistivity data along most of the streets were collected with the array pole-dipole that consisted of three grounded electrodes. We performed 2-D dimensional inversions to the data in order to get a 2-D resistivity image of every street. This is similar to a resistivity cross-section of the ground but obtained from the inversion of pole-dipole and Schlumberger resistivity data simultaneously. Using the information of previous drills we modified our programming code in order to perform constrained inversion and to get more accurate resistivity models in agreement with the drills. From the resistivity models obtained for every street it was possible to produce a map which shows the horizontal distribution of the resistive bodies at a depth of 12m. These resistive bodies show coherent alignments that seem to correspond with a distributions of interconnected caves or tunnels used for extracting the sandy-tuffs. From these kind of interpretation method it was intended to get a more accurate horizontal distribution of the excavated areas in order to better know the urbanized area affected and lead the authorities to remedy the area with refill material.