, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 327-341

Sinkhole subsidence due to mining

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Abstract

This paper reviews the modes of formation of sinkhole subsidence associated with mining activities, drawing on examples in India. Sinkhole (pot-hole) subsidence is an abrupt local depression at the surface which can be hazardous to life and property due to its tendency to occur without warning. Shallow extraction, weak overburden and geological discontinuities are the main factors which cause them. Sinkholes occur due to the failure of a mine roof which migrates through the overlying strata until the failure zone intercepts the unconsolidated overburden. Alternatively they may occur by the creation of cavities in the overburden following the inflow of sand and soil from the overlying weathered and friable strata through faults. Overburden cavities eventually cave in and sinkholes appear at the surface. Sinkholing phenomena can be controlled to some extent by proper design of mining supports and construction of walls to create a barrier around an area prone to sinkholes in bord and pillar workings. Backfilling and grouting can be used to stabilize abandoned underground workings.