Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 176, Issue 4, pp 1531–1548 | Cite as

High-Resolution Seismic Reflection Investigation of Subsidence and Sinkholes at an Abandoned Coal Mine Site in South Africa

  • Ahmed I. IsiakaEmail author
  • Raymond J. Durrheim
  • Musa S. D. Manzi


The high-resolution seismic reflection method was conducted at an abandoned coal mine site located in the Benoni area, near the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, with the aim of investigating the subsidence- and sinkhole-related features that are commonly observed in the area. Like many old abandoned coal mine sites, the study area lacks adequate mine records that show the extent of the underground coal mining activities that took place in the area in the late 1930s. The preliminary geotechnical investigation conducted in the study area using percussion drilling had also confirmed the existence of underlying weathered dolomitic rocks that may give rise to dolomite-related sinkholes and subsidence. The seismic survey has revealed the occurrence of subsidence and sinkhole features in the area to be due to the collapse of the colliery roof into subsurface voids caused by coal extraction that took place at the depth between 7 and 13 m, as well as the dissolution cavities that exist within the underlying dolomite formation at the depth of about 50 m below the surface. The size of the coal-mining-related voids varies between 10 and 15 m and corresponds to the size of the room and pillar mining technique employed in the coal extraction, while the size of the dissolution cavities that exist within the underlying dolomite formation varies from 2 to 10 m.


Reflection seismic subsidence sinkholes coal voids 



We would like to thank the Bear Geoconsultant for making the borehole geotechnical data available to us, and the staff of Ripple Creek Nursery, Benoni for granting us the permission to use their site. We also wish to appreciate the Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR) for granting us the access to the seismic processing software that was used for the processing of the seismic data. Finally, we acknowledge the funding provided by the following organizations: Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria through the TETFUND, the Julian Baring Fund (JBF), United Kingdom, and the Seismic Research Center of the School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed I. Isiaka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Raymond J. Durrheim
    • 1
  • Musa S. D. Manzi
    • 1
  1. 1.School of GeosciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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