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Abstract

The SW part of Sardinia has been afflicted, in recent years, by several cover-collapse sinkholes mostly occurring in low-density population areas. The study area, that lies in the Iglesiente–Sulcis region, is characterized by the cropping out of the Palaeozoic basement related to the South European Hercynian chain, covered with Tertiary–Quaternary sediments. The main rock types that crop out are Palaeozoic metasandstones, metadolostones, metalimestones, shales and metaconglomerates, and Tertiary–Quaternary fluvial–lacustrine continental sediments. The combined application of several geophysical techniques, integrated with boreholes and geotechnical as well as hydrogeological measurements, proved to be very useful and promising in defining in detail the geological context in which each sinkhole has formed. Moreover, the gravity method, even when used alone, proved to be very effective in detecting the regional geological structures to which sinkholes are related.

Eventually, the historical analysis of phenomena, the geological knowledge of the Iglesiente–Sulcis area and the results of properly designed geophysical surveys allows the most probable areas for cover-collapse sinkholes to occur in the future to be determined. In fact, this research pointed out that the depth of the sediment-covered Palaeozoic bedrock is one of the major constraints in delimiting hazardous areas, leading to the construction of a preliminary hazard map. This map shows a belt of high risk, and also suggests the areas in which further geophysical and geotechnical investigations should be carried out to estimate the depth of the bedrock.

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