The use of geophysical methods for the location of cavities and mineshafts is reviewed in relation to engineering problems at the site investigation stage. Their success is limited by the resolution and penetration achieved by the particular method applied in a given situation. It is shown that no one single geophysical method will provide the answer to all the problems associated with cavity location but considerable improvement can be achieved by the application of several methods to a given problem.
It is suggested that for most standard geophysical methods it is possible to detect a cavity whose depth of burial is less than twice its effective diameter. The concept of effective diameter is shown to be of considerable importance since the presence of the cavity or mineshaft does affect the physical properties of the surrounding rock mass and, hence, gives rise to a far larger anomalous zone than that produced by the cavity on its own.