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Highlights

  • Cave entrance buried under debris should be located using a geophysical method.
  • For thick debris which overlays limestone surface a low-frequency GPR was selected.
  • GPR profiles were measured across rough surface using special RTA antennas.
  • In recorded radargrams a topographic depression with the cave was clearly imaged.
  • The exact cave location and debris thickness were proven by successful excavation.

Abstract

The S-19 Cave was with its explored depth of 177 m one of the most important caves of the Mt. Kanin massif, but after its discovery in 1974, a huge snow avalanche protection dyke was constructed across the cave entrance. To excavate the buried cave, the accurate location of the cave had to be determined first. Since the entrance coordinates were incorrect and no markers were available, application of geophysical techniques was necessary to do this. A Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) with special 50 MHz rough terrain antennas was selected as the single suitable geophysical method for the given conditions where thick debris overlay a rugged limestone surface. Nevertheless, it was not possible to directly detect the relatively narrow cave entrance itself due to data resolution limits. However, a historical photo of the area showed that the cave entrance was located in a local depression, which therefore represented the main target of the GPR survey. Seven GPR profiles were measured across the rough and steep surface causing difficulties in traversing the area with sensitive research equipment. In all recorded radargrams a small depression was clearly imaged under debris, and recognized as a topographic feature with the cave entrance. Based on the GPR data interpretation, the exact location for digging was determined and the thickness of debris assessed at 6.5–7 m. A massive excavation by a dredger resulted in a successful opening of the cave entrance, confirming both its geophysically determined location and its estimated depth. The application of an advanced geophysical method was therefore proven successful in providing a solution to this specific case in karst exploration and an important cave was saved.

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/1827-806X.45.2.1979

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