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SIMULTAN – stands for Sinkhole Instability: integrated MULTi-scale monitoring and ANalysis

Our research approach is structured into three components:

Component C1 of the early recognition systems concerns the detection and monitoring of critical zones, using innovative field surveys and novel methods of shallow, urban geophysics.

Component C2 covers the integrated analysis of data, model development, and simulations. Here, we combine the information of past and ongoing activity with prognoses for possible sinkhole collapses.

Component C3 concerns the transfer of knowledge and the decision process (interface to civil protection). Protocols on how scientific information is spread in case of unrest and emergency, and the specific roles of the involved groups, will be defined in guidelines developed during the project.

Our meshed concept comprises six inter-connected work packages (WPs) that investigate large to small scale phenomena, consider time-dependent data, and combine different field data types with simulations for process understanding:

  • WP1: key properties of critical zones in sinkholes
  • WP2: seismic monitoring and characterisation
  • WP3: surface deformation and mass dislocation
  • WP4: rock-soil-water interaction
  • WP5: sub-surface cavity and collapse evolution
  • WP6: protocols and decision process


Two focus-areas are foreseen for pilot applications: area 1 in Hamburg, and area 2 in Thuringia, for which sinkhole unrest has been identified.  These sites are representative of evaporitic sinkhole formation and are highly relevant since located in densely populated areas.

Distribution of soluble rocks in Germany (Krawczyk et al., 2015) with focus areas marked.
Project concept, working from sinkhole characterisation via process understanding to early recognition.
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