High-Resolution 3D FEM Stability Analysis of the Sabereebi Cave Monastery, Georgia

Gisela Domej (Lead / Corresponding author), Marco Previtali, Riccardo Castellanza, Daniele Spizzichino, Giovanni B. Crosta, Alberto Villa, Nicoletta Fusi, Mikheil Elashvili, Claudio Margottini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


This study assesses the static stability of the artificial Sabereebi Cave Monastery southeast of Georgia's capital, Tbilisi. The cliff into which these Georgian-Orthodox caverns, chapels, and churches were carved consists of a five-layered sequence of weak sedimentary rock—all of which bear a considerable failure potential and, consequently, pose the challenge of preservation to geologists, engineers, and archaeologists. In the first part of this study, we present a strategy to process point cloud data from drone photogrammetry as well as from laser scanners acquired in- and outside the caves into high-resolution CAD objects that can be used for numerical modeling ranging from macro- to micro-scale. In the second part, we explore four distinct series of static elasto-plastic finite element stability models featuring different levels of detail, each of which focuses on specific geomechanical scenarios such as classic landsliding due to overburden, deformation of architectural features as a result of stress concentration, material response to weathering, and pillar failure due to vertical load. With this bipartite approach, the study serves as a comprehensive 3D stability assessment of the Sabereebi Cave Monastery on the one hand; on the other hand, the established procedure should serve as a pilot scheme, which could be adapted to different sites in the future combining non-invasive and relatively cost-efficient assessment methods, data processing and hazard estimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5139-5162
Number of pages24
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number8
Early online date7 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • 3D FEM
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Point cloud processing
  • Slope stability
  • Soft rock
  • Static analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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