Engineering Geophysics - Mine Subsidence Risk Assessment Study

Hanna, Kanaan
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 12
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2011
Abandoned mines pose a serious threat to public health and safety, as well as the environment. When active workings approach old mine workings, miners could encounter significant hazards. Additionally, the presence of mined-out areas or voids underlying residential/commercial properties, transportation, and infrastructure systems can cause subsidence issues ranging from differential settlements and sinkholes to catastrophic collapse. All these features can result in adverse impacts in terms of cost and public safety. Traditionally, mine void detection and related engineering investigations for mine subsidence risk assessment and mitigation have been greatly dependent on systematic drilling and grouting backfill programs. The unknown location and condition of abandoned underground mines represent significant challenges to geologists and engineers in accurately evaluating subsidence hazards and developing appropriate mitigation measures. A comprehensive, multi-phase mine subsidence investigation was conducted at an abandoned western U.S. mine site. The mine operated in an approximately 8-ft (2.4-m) -thick coal seam using room-and-pillar extraction from 1919 to 1922. The mine lies at depths ranging from 50 to 100 ft (15 to 30 m), and it is overlain by critical pipeline and utility corridors. Any future subsidence/ sinkhole that occurs beneath or adjacent to the corridors could pose a significant threat, specifically to the structural integrity of the pipeline corridor. Therefore, the engineering geophysical investigation was initiated to determine the potential subsidence risk. This paper describes a recent success achieved by using integrated engineering geophysics in subsidence risk evaluation. A summary of significant results with emphasis on subsurface characterization, mine workings and voids delineation, modeling analysis, and high risk zones identification and mitigation strategy is presented.
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