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The joint project SIMULTAN aims to develop and apply an early recognition system of sinkhole instability, unrest and collapse, with a novel research approach which combines structural, geophysical, petrophysical, and hydrological mapping methods, accompanied by sensor development, and multi-scale monitoring.


Depending on the subsoil structure and the generation process, sinkholes may form continuously growing depressions at the surface or collapse abruptly to form deep holes with diameters up to several tens of meters. Both types of sinkholes may cause severe damage to infrastructure (e.g., ca. 93 Mill. USD payed by insurance companies in Florida in 2009; 38 Mill. USD loss to Arab Potash Company within 30 minutes by sinkhole-induced collapse of a saltplan dike in the Dead Sea region in 2000). The individual process components of this sinkhole collapse can in principle be simple and understood.  However, pre-collapse processes and precursors interact on different spatio-temporal scales with small variation.

This requires innovative, multi-scale observation, analysis and integrated early recognition concepts, especially for urban areas, which have not yet been fully developed and not been established as operational systems. With SIMULTAN, we effectively want to fill this knowledge gap across scales and disciplines, to (1) predict the relevant processes and their dependencies, (2) enhance the capabilities of an early warning system, and (3) enable immediate decision processes to state authorities.


Audio feature (10 min, in German) on sinkhole processes (Erdfälle mit Prof. Dr. Charlotte Krawczyk), GFZ-Podcast

TV feature (45 min, in German) on sinkhole and collapse processes (Löcher in der Erde – So instabil ist unser Untergrund), ARD: planet wissen

Final colloquium Frühwarnsysteme, 8.-9. May 2018, Hannover

EGU General Assembly, 8.-13. April 2018, Vienna/Austria more

The Sinkhole Conference, 2.-6. April 2018, Shepherdstown, West Virginia/USA more

Annual Meeting German Geophysical Society (DGG),12.-15. February 2018, Leoben/Austria. more

AGU Fall Meeting, 11.-15. December 2017, New Orleans, Louisiana/USA more

Status seminar Frühwarnsysteme, 27.-28. September 2017, Dresden

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