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|The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Spokane Research Laboratory (SRL), investigated a means to evaluate the potential impact of surface conditions above underground mines on emergency response activities. Recent events have highlighted the need to conduct critical emergency operations on the surface above underground work areas. Accessibility and usability of the surface, such as the ability to drill holes or deploy seismic monitoring or through the earth communications systems, are an important consideration for emergency response planning. This paper identifies critical surface conditions such as: surface waters, valley fill, highways, railroads and significant structures that must be considered in emergency response planning and in the conduct of emergency operations as they relate specifically to the seismic detection of trapped underground miners. Results of case studies indicate a need to consider the impact surface conditions may have on emergency response capabilities.|