Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.5194/se-14-333-2023
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) The Münsterdorf sinkhole cluster: void origin and mechanical failure
Author Kaufmann, G.; Romanov, D.; Werban, U. ORCID logo ; Vienken, T.
Source Titel Solid Earth
Year 2023
Department MET
Volume 14
Issue 3
Page From 333
Page To 351
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
UFZ wide themes MOSAIC;

Since 2004, collapse sinkholes occur on the sports field of Münsterdorf, a village north of Hamburg in Germany. The sinkholes, around 2–5 m in diameter and 3–5 m deep, develop in peri-glacial sand, which at around 20 m depth is underlain by Cretaceous chalk. The chalk has been pushed up close to the surface by a salt diapir. The sinkhole formation initiated suddenly and occurs with a frequency of one every 2 years.

We use a variety of geophysical results (e.g. gravity, electrical resistivity imaging, ground-penetrating radar) from previous fieldwork campaigns together with a new data set from direct-push-based methods to infer mechanical and hydrological properties of the material beneath the sports field (peri-glacial sand, glacial marl, Cretaceous chalk).

Based on the derived material properties, we develop a mechanical model for the sinkhole collapse, starting from simple analytical considerations and then moving towards a three-dimensional distinct-element model explaining the sudden onset of collapse sinkholes for the sports field.

The mechanical model supports our hypothesis that the sudden onset of sinkholes is triggered by changes in groundwater level.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Kaufmann, G., Romanov, D., Werban, U., Vienken, T. (2023):
The Münsterdorf sinkhole cluster: void origin and mechanical failure
Solid Earth 14 (3), 333 - 351 10.5194/se-14-333-2023