Abstract

Four cylindrical sinkholes occurred between April 1988 and June 1989 in a residential area located 27 km south of Kuwait City. The physiographic and geological conditions of their development and the methods of survey followed to detect potential subsurface cavities in the area are discussed. The major sinkhole is 15 m in diameter and 31 m deep; the others are a few metres in size. A mechanism of migrating sinkholes is suggested, where the upper elastic sediments have been moved down into cavities of the underlying Dammam Limestone. Such movement could have been triggered by garden irrigation and urbanization. A conceptual model is introduced to explain the mechanism of this subsidence. Microgravity techniques were applied using a La Coste Model-D gravimeter to detect areas of subsurface weakness. Negative anomalies in the order of 80 microgals were recorded and considered to indicate underground cavities or zones of contrasted mass-deficiencies representing high risk areas. Moderate anomalies were also recorded and attributed to poor compaction of the ground prior to construction.

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