Abstract

Sinkhole formation is a common occurrence in northeast Iowa, and U.S. 18 in Cerro Gordo County was constructed over an area where sinkhole formation had only been locally known. It had not been recorded or identified in the Iowa DNR database at the time. Since 2004, sinkholes have developed along the right of way. Geophysical surveys contributed very little in the identifying the cause. However a Soil Survey (drilling program) identified numerous voids within carbonate bedrock. The soil borings indicated that shale overlying the carbonate rock has been removed/eroded, and resulted in the development of a karst subsurface through the dissolution of the carbonate rock. Without removing the structural fill and site soils to expose the rock, it will not be possible to impede the natural processes occurring. An alternative approach was adopted and consisted of: (a) removing the existing pavement, (b) installing coaxial cables in trenches excavated within the subgrade, (c) replacing the pavement as double reinforced pavement (including shoulders), and (d) monitoring the cables using Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR). The cables are interrogated several times a day and data is transmitted via cellular modem to Iowa DOT facilities. Among the data transmitted is a log file of deformation activity along each of the cables which is evaluated and an action plan is initiated based on: (a) information in the activity file, and (b) updated plots for each cable. Unexpected behavior has been observed, with activity occurring annually between the months of September and March. Although several explanations have been proposed, there is no definitive correlation between locations of the activity detected by TDR, sinkhole locations, or geophysical anomaly locations. In spite of this uncertainty, real time remote monitoring for ground movement is continuing.

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DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/9780991000951.1007

 

Monitoring the Threat of Sinkhole Formation Under a Portion of US 18 in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa Using TDR Measurements

Sinkhole formation is a common occurrence in northeast Iowa, and U.S. 18 in Cerro Gordo County was constructed over an area where sinkhole formation had only been locally known. It had not been recorded or identified in the Iowa DNR database at the time. Since 2004, sinkholes have developed along the right of way. Geophysical surveys contributed very little in the identifying the cause. However a Soil Survey (drilling program) identified numerous voids within carbonate bedrock. The soil borings indicated that shale overlying the carbonate rock has been removed/eroded, and resulted in the development of a karst subsurface through the dissolution of the carbonate rock. Without removing the structural fill and site soils to expose the rock, it will not be possible to impede the natural processes occurring. An alternative approach was adopted and consisted of: (a) removing the existing pavement, (b) installing coaxial cables in trenches excavated within the subgrade, (c) replacing the pavement as double reinforced pavement (including shoulders), and (d) monitoring the cables using Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR). The cables are interrogated several times a day and data is transmitted via cellular modem to Iowa DOT facilities. Among the data transmitted is a log file of deformation activity along each of the cables which is evaluated and an action plan is initiated based on: (a) information in the activity file, and (b) updated plots for each cable. Unexpected behavior has been observed, with activity occurring annually between the months of September and March. Although several explanations have been proposed, there is no definitive correlation between locations of the activity detected by TDR, sinkhole locations, or geophysical anomaly locations. In spite of this uncertainty, real time remote monitoring for ground movement is continuing.

 

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