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Identifying fossil cave entrances with ERT at Sierra de Atapuerca caves (Burgos, Spain)
Lucía Bermejo  1, 2, *@  , Ana Isabel Ortega  1, 3, 4@  , Roger GuÉrin  5@  , Josep ParÉs  1@  , Isidoro CampaÑa  1, 2@  , Adrián Martínez-Fernández  1@  , José María Bermúdez De Castro  1@  , Eudald Carbonell  6, 7@  
1 : Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre Evolución Humana  (CENIEH)  -  Website
Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca 3, 09002 Burgos -  Espagne
2 : Doctorado Interuniversitario de Evolución Humana
C/ Don Juan de Austria, 1, 1ª planta, 09001 Burgos -  Espagne
3 : Fundación Atapuerca  -  Website
Carretera de Logroño, 44 - 09198 Ibeas de Juarros, Burgos -  Espagne
4 : Grupo Espeleológico Edelweiss  -  Website
Excma. Diputación Provincial de Burgos, C/Paseo del Espolón s/n, 09071, Burgos -  Espagne
5 : Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris 6  (UPMC)  -  Website
Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris 6
4 place Jussieu - 75005 Paris -  France
6 : Institut Català de Paleoecología Humana i Evolució Social  (IPHES)  -  Website
C/Escorxador s/n, 43003 Tarragona -  Espagne
7 : Universitat Rovira i Virgili  (URV)
Campus Catalunya, Avinguda de Catalunya 35, 43002 Tarragona -  Espagne
* : Corresponding author

The Sierra de Atapuerca sites (Burgos, Spain) consist of various caves filled with sediments that bear outstanding archaeo-palaeoanthropological remains (Bermúdez de Castro et al., 1997; Carbonell et al., 2008; Ortega et al., 2014). Indentifying the development of this multilevel karstic system is therefore crucial for understanding these sites formation processes as well as for excavation planning strategies.

To this end, geophysical prospection has already been applied at Sierra de Atapuerca, revealing interesting information that has been verified by test pits. In particular, the ERT (Electrical Resistivity Tomography) method has proven to characterize this karst environment successfully, especially because of the high resistivity contrast that exists between the sediments that fill the caves and the limestone host rock (Ortega et al., 2010; Bermejo et al., 2017).

In this work, we present the results of the systematic ERT surveys carried out for the last years over all the passable areas of the range that contains this karstic system and in relation to all of its levels. More specifically, we present the profiles related to ancient cave entrances.

All these entrances have in common to be filled with sediments and covered by vegetation, fact that makes them indistinguishable in the field. The location of some of them has been possible thanks to previous topographic and geomorphological studies, whereas the rest were unknown to present.

The interpretation of these 2D ERT profiles has allowed indentifying the geometry of 3 known entrances. Besides, these profiles have unveiled the location of 3 other unknown entrances and their morphologies.


Keywords: Electrical Resistivity Tomography; Sierra de Atapuerca sites; karst geomorphology; geophysics applied to archaeology



Bermejo L., Ortega A. I., Guérin R., Benito-Calvo A., Pérez-González A., Parés J. M., Aracil E., Bermúdez de Castro J. M., Carbonell E. (2017). 2D and 3D ERT imaging for identifying karst morphologies in the archaeological sites of Gran Dolina and Galería Complex (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain). Quaternary International, 433, 393-401.

Bermúdez de Castro J. M., Arsuaga J. L., Carbonell E., Rosas A., Martínez I., Mosquera M., (1997). A hominid from the Lower Pleistocene of Atapuerca, Spain: possible ancestor to Neandertals and modern human. Science, 276, 1392-1395.

Carbonell E., Bermúndez de Castro J.M., Parés J.M., Pérez-González A., Cuenca-Bescós G., Ollé A., Mosquera M., Huguet R., Made van der J., Rosas A., Sala R., Vallverdú J., García N., Granger D. E., Martinón-Torres M., Rodríguez X.P., Stock G.M., Vergès J.M., Allue E., Burjachs F., Cáceres I., Canals, A., Benito, A., Díez, C., Lozano, M., Mateos, A., Navazo, M., Rodríguez, J., Rosell, J. and Asuaga J.L., (2008). The first hominin of Europe. Nature, 425, 465-470.

Ortega, A. I., Benito-Calvo, A., Pérez-González, A., Carbonell, E., Bermúdez de Castro, J.M., Arsuaga, J.L., (2014). Atapuerca Karst and its palaeoanthropological sites. In: Gutierrez, F., Gutierrez, M. (Eds.), Landscapes and Landforms of Spain, World Geomorphological Landscapes. Springer, Dordrecht, 101-110.

Ortega A. I., Benito-Calvo A., Pérez-González A., Porres A., Martín M. A., (2010). Applying electrical resistivity tomography to the identification of endokarstic geometries in the Pleistocene sites of the Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain). Archaeological Prospection, 17, 233–245.

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