Evaporite sinkhole risk for a building portfolio

  • Pierrick Nicolet
  • Marc Choffet
  • Marc-Henri Derron
  • Michel Jaboyedoff
  • Bertrand Lauraux
Original Article


Karst-related hazard can be a problem for buildings, especially in the case of evaporite karst. This study aims at evaluating the risk posed by evaporite karst for a building portfolio in western Switzerland, using a susceptibility map and an event inventory. Since the inventory is not complete, different corrections aim at obtaining a frequency of sinkhole events damaging a building as close as possible to the actual frequency. These corrections account for the variation of the building stock during the inventory period, the varying inventory quality among the municipalities and the partial knowledge, even in the best case. This approach is preferred here to estimating spatially the hazard, since the amount of information on the frequency and magnitude is insufficient to draw a proper hazard map. The distribution of loss ratios is also retrieved from the inventory, thanks to the estimated or actual price of the remedial works. Annual losses are then estimated using a Monte Carlo approach, which consists in sampling for a number of damaged buildings from a Poisson distribution, for a distribution of loss ratios and for a building value. Different exceedance curves relying on different hypotheses are presented, and the mean annual loss that the public insurance company might have to compensate is estimated at CHF 0.8–1.5 million.


Risk Sinkhole Evaporite Gypsum 



This study has been founded by the Etablissement d’assurance contre l’incendie et les éléments naturels du Canton de Vaud (ECA), which is also thanked for allowing the publication of the results. A sinkhole database and a layer with gypsum dissolutions areas have been provided by the State of Vaud. The municipalities of Bex, Gryon, Ormont-Dessus and Ormont-Dessous provided useful information on past events. Finally, we would like to thank the reviewers, whose comments helped improving this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences and EnvironmentUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Geological Survey of Norway (NGU)TrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Etablissement d’assurance contre l’incendie et les éléments naturels du Canton de VaudPullySwitzerland
  4. 4.Bertrand Lauraux SABexSwitzerland

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