Numerical analysis of the behavior of a karst cave at Castellana-Grotte, Italy


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Publication Date

January 2004


The present paper concerns the numerical study of the behavior of natural karst caves at Castellana-Grotte (Apulia, Southern Italy) by means of the Discrete Element Method. The caves have been formed by karst processes in a stratified calcareous rock mass and consist of wide caverns, which are connected by narrow and high corridors. The observed behavior of the carbonate rock mass in the caves shows gradual failures of slices from the ceiling due to propagation of tensile joints, followed by sudden fall of slabs with thicknesses ranging from few centimeters to more than one meter. The factors controlling the loosening of the cave roof with time and the consequent failure mechanism have been investigated. In addition, both the influence of structural features on the roof stability and the reason for asymmetric collapse of the roof have been assessed.

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