Geophysical survey techniques have been successfully applied to near-surface cave detection in karstic terrains. We used magnetic and electrical resistivity surveys to delineate the karstic structure of the Ayvacık Sinkhole, which may be considered to be a vertical cave. The magnetic-total-field-anomaly map helped reveal the metamorphic and sedimentary units in the study area. The total-horizontal-gradient map, which was based on a calculated pseudogravity anomaly, successfully identified the contact between the limestone unit and the cave system. Using these results, we positioned and carried out a vertical electrical sounding (VES) survey with a Schlumberger array along a line that consisted of 11 stations. The VES data were then processed using a 1D global optimization technique, which used a genetic algorithm and a 2D linearized least-squares algorithm. The results were generally in good agreement with each other, and together they pointed out three geologic layers: (1) an overburden layer (>316Ωm), (2) an approximately 25-m-thick alluvial fill (100–316 Ωm), and (3) a limestone unit (316–3162 Ωm); and also suggested the existence of a high-resistive anomaly (>15000Ωm), possibly a karstic cave, located at the depth of approximately 40 m. Also, the results suggested that the buried limestone unit had an undulating karstic topography including a probable pinnacle structure. A synthetic modeling study was carried out, and it validated the reliability of the results. Finally, our findings indicated that the geophysical survey techniques used here were successful in detecting a cave located deep enough to make human exploration difficult.

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