Environmental Earth Sciences

, 77:799 | Cite as

Mechanism of sinkhole formation during groundwater-level recovery in karst mining area, Dachengqiao, Hunan province, China

  • Zongyuan Pan
  • Xiaozhen JiangEmail author
  • Mingtang Lei
  • Zhende Guan
  • Yuanbin Wu
  • Yongli Gao
Thematic Issue
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Karst Hydrogeology: Advances in Karst Collapse Studies


The Meitanba Coal Mine area in Hunan province, China, had been impacted by severe cover collapse sinkholes since 1982 due to mine dewatering. After the coal mine was closed in February 2015, the groundwater level has increased significantly. A series of sinkholes were recorded in the study area during groundwater-level recovery. Analysis of monitoring results and in-situ investigation indicated that 13 sinkhole collapses were more likely induced by abrupt change of groundwater–air pressure in response to heavy rainfall from March 2015 to July 2016 when the groundwater level increased by as much as 76 m. When the karst conduit was flooded, a relatively sealed environment was formed between saturated sediments and flooded karst conduit. Implosion of entrapped air might have caused the cave roof to collapse followed by surface collapses in a short time. On the other hand, four sinkholes occurred in November 2016 when the groundwater levels were near the soil–bedrock interface at elevations between 52.5 and 58.9 m amsl and the groundwater-level increase was at slower paces. Field measurements indicate that the groundwater-level fluctuation at the soil–bedrock interface could enlarge the soil cavity and accelerate the subsoil erosion process.


Mine closure Groundwater-level recovery Cover collapse sinkhole Groundwater–air pressure changes Subsoil erosion 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC) (Grant nos. 41472298 and 41428202), China Geological Survey Project (Grant no. DD20160254), and the National Youth Science Foundation of China (NYSFC) (Grant no. 41402284).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zongyuan Pan
    • 1
  • Xiaozhen Jiang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mingtang Lei
    • 1
  • Zhende Guan
    • 1
  • Yuanbin Wu
    • 1
  • Yongli Gao
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Karst GeologyChinese Academy of Geological SciencesGuilinChina
  2. 2.Department of Geological Sciences, Center for Water ResearchUniversity of San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

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