Integrated geophysical and geological investigations applied to sedimentary rock mass characterization

M. T. Carrozzo, G. Leucci, S. Margiotta, F. Mazzone, S. Negri


The Salento Peninsula (south-eastern Italy) is characterized by sedimentary rocks. The carbonatic nature of the
rocks means they are affected by karst phenomena, forming such features as sinkholes, collapsed dolines and caverns,
as a result of chemical leaching of carbonates by percolating water. The instability of these phenomena often
produces land subsidence problems. The importance of these events is increasing due to growing urbanization, numerous
quarries affecting both the subsoil and the surface, and an important coastline characterized by cliffs. This
paper focuses on geological and geophysical methods for the characterization of soft sedimentary rock, and presents
the results of a study carried out in an urban area of Salento. Taking the Q system derived by Barton (2002) as
the starting point for the rock mass classification, a new approach and a modification of the Barton method are proposed.
The new equation proposed for the classification of sedimentary rock mass (Qsrm) takes account of the permeability
of the rock masses, the geometry of the exposed rock face and their types (for example, quarry face,
coastal cliff or cavity), the nature of the lithotypes that constitute the exposed sequence, and their structure and texture.
This study revises the correlation between Vp and Q derived by Barton (2002), deriving a new empirical equation
correlating P-wave velocities and Qsrm values in soft sedimentary rock. We also present a case history in which
stratigraphical surveys, Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT), and seismic surveys were applied to in situ investigations
of subsidence phenomena in an urban area to estimate rock mass quality. Our work shows that in the
analysis of ground safety it is important to establish the rock mass quality of the subsurface structures; geophysical
exploration can thus play a key role in the assessment of subsidence risk.


sedimentary rock mass quality;stratigraphy;seismic refraction tomography;ERT

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X