Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
03 Jan 2005
03 Jan 2005

Integrated geophysical surveys to assess the structural conditions of a karstic cave of archaeological importance

G. Leucci and L. De Giorgi

Abstract. An integrated geophysical survey using both the electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) methods was undertaken over a cave of great archaeological interest in southern Italy. The survey was performed to assess the stability of the carbonate rock roof of the cave. A geophysical survey was preferred to boreholes and geotechnical tests, in order to avoid the risk of mass movements. The interpretation of integrated data from ERT and GPR resulted in an evaluation of some of the electromagnetic (EM) characteristics (such as the EM wave velocity) and the detection of discontinuities (fractures) in the carbonate rock. It is well known that rock fractures constitute a serious problem in cave maintenance, and progressive cracking within the bed rock is considered to be one of the main causes of collapse. An analysis of the back-scattered energy was also required for the GPR data interpretation. Cracks within the bedrock were detected to a depth of about 2 m by using GPR, which allowed for the identification of the loosened zone around the cave.