Environmental Geology

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 347–357 | Cite as

Environmental and hydrogeological problems in karstic terrains crossed by tunnels: a case study

  • J. GisbertEmail author
  • A. Vallejos
  • A. González
  • A. Pulido-Bosch
Special Issue


The construction of one of the high-speed railway tunnels between Malaga and Córdoba (South Spain) beneath the Abdalajís mountains occasioned a series of hydrogeological problems with geotechnical and environmental impacts. The double tunnel, 7,300 m in length, runs south to north across several lines of small, calcareous mountains that have a highly complex structure. Beneath the Jurassic limestones lie Triassic clays and evaporites. Overlying the limestones is an essentially marly and limestone-marl Cretaceous series, which culminates with Miocene marls containing some organic matter. These mountains have generated springs that are used for urban water supply and irrigation, as well as drinking fountains in the surrounding villages. The initial water level in the aquifer series varied from 400 to 650 m above sea level. After drilling approximately 2,900 m, and intercepting a fracture zone within the carbonate rocks, a sudden water eruption occurred that reached a peak flow of 800 L/s. After a short while, spring discharges dried up, leading to a public protest. In this paper, we describe the geological and hydrogeological settings, the development of the aquifer as the drilling operation proceeded, the measures adopted and the responses subsequent to completion of the tunnel, including the effect of rainfall on the recovery of water levels. Lastly, a generalized estimate is made of how the system functions, and a forecast is made for recovery of its equilibrium.


Tunnel Karstic aquifer Spring Water level 



We are grateful to the company ADIF and to Juan Amaury Gil Gandía for providing the hydrological data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Gisbert
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Vallejos
    • 1
  • A. González
    • 2
  • A. Pulido-Bosch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HydrogeologyUniversity of AlmeríaAlmeríaSpain
  2. 2.ADIFMadridSpain

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