30 Aug 2022
30 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

The Münsterdorf sinkhole cluster: Void origin and mechanical failure

Georg Kaufmann1, Douchko Romanov1, Ulrike Werban2, and Thomas Vienken2,3 Georg Kaufmann et al.
  • 1Institute of Geological Sciences, Geophysics Section, Freie Universität Berlin, , Malteserstr. 74-100, Haus D, 12249 Berlin, Germany
  • 2Department Monitoring- und Erkundungstechnologien, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung - UFZ, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
  • 3Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences, TUM Campus Straubing, 94315 Straubing, Germany

Abstract. 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 in 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 two years.

We use a variety of geophysical results (e.g. gravity, electrical resistivity imaging, ground-penetrating radar) from previous field-work 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.

Georg Kaufmann et al.

Status: open (until 11 Oct 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-668', Anonymous Referee #1, 23 Sep 2022 reply

Georg Kaufmann et al.

Georg Kaufmann et al.


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Short summary
We discuss collapse sinkholes occuring since 2004 on the sports field of Münsterdorf, a village north of Hamburg. The sinkholes, 2–5 m in size and about 3–5 m deep, develop in peri-glacial sand, with a likely origin in the cretaceous chalk, present in about 20 m depth. The area has been analyzed with geophysical and direct-push based methods, from which material properties of the subsurface have been derived. The properties have been used for mechanical models, predicting the subsidence.