Study of engineering geology and analysis of rock slope stability in karstic areas


Department of Geology, Faculty of Science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran


Design and construction of engineering structures in karstic areas can face numerous problems due to the dimensions and geometry of karstic structures and existence of unpredictable locations and cavities. Therefore, comprehensive investigations may help to avoid hazardous areas, plan preventively and take effective and corrective course of actions. In this study, due to the karstic conditions of the foundation of the Khorramabad's artificial waterfall, different methods were used to evaluate the engineering geological features of the karst and analyze the rock slope stability. These methods include determination of the physical, mechanical, hydraulic and solubility properties of the rock samples obtained from the boreholes drilled in the rock slope. In addition, karst geomorphology and rock engineering classification were studied for karst development and engineering judgement. To determine and analyze possible landslides in the rock slope, Dips, Roclab, Rockplane, Swedge and Slide softwares were used in static state and in contact with surface water flow. According to the results, the region is a young karst in terms of karst maturity and the solubility velocity constant of the limestone is 6.99×10-5 m / s. Also, possible slips detected in the rock slope are of plate, wedge and mass types, whose long-term stability will be provided by anchors and shotcrete. However, due to the stabilization costs, environmental problems causing by cement injection in karstic dissolved cavities and increase in landslides risk causing by surface water flow, it was recommended that preventive planning be considered for the construction of the waterfall at the proposed site.


Abdeltawab, S., 2013. Karst limestone foundation geotechnical problems, detection and treatment: Case studies from Egypt and Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research 5, 376-387.
Alija, S., Torrijo, F.J., Quinta-Ferreira, M., 2013. Geological engineering problems associated with tunnel construction in karst rock masses: The case of Gavarres tunnel (Spain). Engineering Geology 157, 103-111.
ASTM D2845, "Standard Test Method for Laboratory Determination of Pulse Velocities and Ultrasonic Elastic Constants of Rock", Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Vol. 14.02, ASTM, USA (1996). Bell, F.G., 2007. Engineering geology. Butterworth-Heinemann, p. 581.
Calembert, L., 1975. Engineering geological problems in karstic regions. Bulletin of the International Association of Engineering Geology 12, 39–82.
Chen, D., Yi, C., 2017. Study on Roof Safe Thickness of Rock Foundation with Karst Cave and Karst Cave- surrounding Rock Stability. 4th International Conference on Mechanics and Mechatronics Research (ICMMR 2017), 1-6.
Cooper, A.H., Farrant, A.R., Price, S.J., 2011. The use of karst geomorphology for planning, hazard avoidance and development in Great Britain. Geomorphology 134, 118–131.
FHWA, 2010. Ground Anchors and Anchors Systems. Geotechnical Engineering Circular, No. 4, FHWA-IF-99-015.
Folk, R.L., 1959. Practical Petrographic Classification of Limestones. AAPG Bulletin 43, 1-38.
Ford, D.C., 1993. Environmental Change in Karst Areas. Environmental Geology 21, 107-109.
Ford, D.C., Williams, P.W., 1989. Karst Geomorphology and Hydrology. Academic Division of Unwin Hyman Ltd, London. p. 601.
Gao, Sh., Wang, L., Long, W., 2014. Variation of the Ultimate Bearing Capacity of Karst Cave Roof under the Loading of Pile Foundation. EJGE 19, 8467-8483.
Ghobadi, M.H., Ghorbani, S., 2011. Study of geomorphology karst in Khorramabad city. 7th Iranian Conference on Engineering Geology and Environmental. Shahroud University of Technology, September 2011, p. 9.
Ghobadi, M.H., Torabi-Kaveh, M., Miri, M., Mahdiabadi, N., 2014. An introduction to the karst geomorphology of the Bisetun–Taqe Bostan historical region (northeast Kermanshah, Iran) with special emphasis on karst development as a serious threat for the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment 74, 1071–1086.
Goodman, R.E., 1989. Introduction to rock mechanics. John Wiley & Sons, p. 562.
Gutiérrez, F., Johnson, K.S., Cooper, A.H., 2008. Evaporate karst processes, landforms and problems. Environmental Geology 53, 935–936.
Gutiérrez, F., Mozafari, M., Carbonel, D., Gomez, R., Raeisi, E., 2015. Leakage problems in dams built on evaporites. the case of La Loteta Dam (NE Spain), a reservoir in a large karstic depression generated by interstratal salt dissolution. Engineering Geology 185, 139–154.
Hoek, E., Carranza-Torres, CT., Corkum, B., 2002. Hoek-Brown failure criterion-2002 edition. Proceedings of the Fifth North American Rock Mechanics Symposium 1, 267–273.
Huang, X., Li, S., Xu, Z., Guo, M., Chen, Y., 2018. Assessment of a Concealed Karst Cave’s Influence on Karst Tunnel Stability: A Case Study of the Huaguoshan Tunnel, China. Sustainability 10, 1-26.
ISRM, 1978. Suggested methods for quantitative description of discontinuities in rock masses. International Society for Rock Mechanics, Commission on Standardization of Laboratory and Field Test. Int. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences Geomech 15, 319–368.
Jiang, C., Zhao, M., Cao, W., 2008. Stability analysis of subgrade cave roofs in karst region. Journal of Central South University of Technology 15, 38–44.
Johnson, K.S., Neal, J.T., 2003. Evaporite Karst and Engineering/Environmental Problems in the United States. Oklahoma Geological Survey Circular 109, p. 353.
Li., L., Tu, W., Shi, S., Chen, J., Zhang, Y., 2016. Mechanism of water inrush in tunnel construction in karst area, Geomatics. Natural Hazards and Risk 7, 35-46.
Maksimovic, G.A., 1969. Pesceri gipsovogo karsta (Caves in gypsum karst). Abh. V Int. Kong. Spelaelogie, Stuttgart,Germany.
Milanovic, P.T., 1981. Karst hydrogeology: U.S.,Colorado. Water Resources Publications, p. 434.
Niu, J., Oyediran, I.A., Liu, D., Huang, X., Cui, Z., Wang, H., Shi, X., 2015. Quantitative foundation stability evaluation of urban karst area: Case study of Tangshan, China. Soils and Foundations 55, 493–503.
Parise, M., 2008. Rock failures in karst Landslides and Engineered Slopes – Chen et al. (eds) © 2008 Taylor & Francis Group, London, ISBN 978-0-415-41196, 275-280.
Parise, M., Closson, D., Gutierrez, F., Stevanovic, Z., 2015. Anticipating and managing engineering problems in the complex karst environment. Environmental Earth Sciences 74, 7823–7835.
Sahandi, M., Jafarian, M.,   Haj Mullah Ali, E., Soheili, M., 1992. Khorramabads Geological map 1:250000. Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration Organization (In Persian).
Waltham, A.C., Fookes, P.G., 2003. Engineering classification of karst ground conditions. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology 36, 101–118.
Waltham, T., Bell, F., Culshaw, M., 2005. Sinkholes and subsidence. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, p. 383.
Williams, P.W., 1993. Karst Terrains, Environmental Changes and Human Impact: Cremingen-Destedt, Germany. Catena Supplement 25, p. 268.
Xeidakis, G.S., Torok, A., Skias, S., Kleb, B., 2004. Engineering geological problems associated with karst terrains: their investigation, monitoring, and mitigation and design of engineering structures on karst terrains. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Greece, Vol. XXXVI, Proceedings of the 10th International Congress, Thessaloniki, April 2004, 1932-1941.