Workshop 12

Shallow subsurface cavities: identification and characterization with geological and geophysical methods. Friday June 14th | Room 13


  • Diego Rovetta (Aramco Overseas Company)
  • Olena Ivanik (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
    CRPG, University of Lorraine)
  • Oleksandr Menshov (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv)


Shallow subsurface cavities and sinkholes often arise from natural processes like water erosion or rock dissolution known as karst formations. They are a substantial geological hazard worldwide affecting onshore and offshore projects in different industries, including construction, oil and gas and renewable energy.

In civil engineering, onshore karsts have the potential to significantly disrupt the construction of surface facilities, such as roads, bridges, and entire cities. In the mining industry, they can damage the subsurface stability which is paramount for worker safety and the preservation of underground infrastructure.

In offshore sectors the presence of sinkholes and submerged caves is also a substantial risk. It can compromise the stability of maritime structures, such as drilling platforms, pipelines, and offshore wind farms, posing significant threats to infrastructure integrity, environmental safety, and the economic viability of these industries.

Proactive risk mitigation strategies are necessary to avoid serious consequences including financial and human losses. In this workshop we aim at exploring advanced geological and geophysical methods to detect and characterize shallow subsurface cavities in order to mitigate their risk effectively.

Sub-Topics that will be covered in the workshop:

  • Geological indicators: understanding the geological characteristics of karst terrain, including the identification of karst-forming rocks, sedimentary layers, and surface features that can offer clues about potential karst hazards.
  • Geophysical survey techniques: exploring various geophysical methods such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity, gravity, seismic surveys, etc.
  • Case studies and best practices: exploring real-world applications and successful approaches in karst detection and characterization, including examples of how geological and geophysical methods have been employed to prevent disasters and ensure safety.
  • Interdisciplinary approaches: involving collaboration between geologists, geophysicists, civil engineers, and environmental scientists and discussing the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation in addressing karst-related challenges.
  • Technological advancements: exploring emerging technologies and algorithms to improve the accuracy and efficiency of karst detection and characterization, also addressing the role of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to assist with or replace some steps in the workflows for karsts detection and characterization. Particular attention will also be given to energy transition applications.
Karst topography as geological underground cave formation explanation outline diagram. Labeled educational detailed ground structure with limestone cavern, stalactite or stalagmite vector illustration

Participant Profile

The workshop will cover subjects appealing to experienced professionals in industry and academia, as well as individuals without prior knowledge of near-surface geophysics, but with an interest in its applications. Participants are encouraged to share their experiences, including success stories and unresolved challenges, to foster discussions.

Workshop Programme

09:30Welcome and introduction - Diego Rovetta (Aramco Overseas Company) & Olena Ivanik (Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv)
09:45Ecosystem services supplied by karst areas – Paulo Alexandre da Silva Pereira (Mykolas Romeris University)
10:15Lithologic-stratigraphic control of the karst breakdown mechanism in Miocene gypsum of the northern Carpathian Foredeep – Bogdan Ridush (Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University)
10:45Coffee Break
11:00High-resolution seismic imaging of shallow cavities and other localized objects – Deyan Draganov and Ranajit Ghose (TU-Delft)
11:30Detecting near-surface cavities and shallow heterogeneities through surface wave attributes: methods and applications – Chiara Colombero (PoliTo)
12:00General discussion
12:30Lunch Break
13:30Ultra-resolution nodal seismic and machine learning for geohazard analysis – Daniele Colombo (Saudi Aramco)
14:00Sinkhole and Cavity Detection through Satellite Radar Data: Exploring Potentialities and Addressing Challenges – Alessandro Ferretti (TRE)
14:30A seismic toolbox for early screening of adverse surface conditions - Myrna Starring (Fugro)
15:00Coffee Break
15:15Detection and Location of Flowing Conduits in Irish Karst using Passive Seismic Approach - Haleh Karbala Ali (MET Eireann)
15:45Remote detection of karst – From remote sensing to seismic - Andreas Laake (SLB)
16:15General discussion
16:45Closing remarks