Abstract

Coal mining has been practised in some parts of the world, notably western Europe, for centuries and this type of mining has evolved over time as mines became deeper and larger. Today coal is worked primarily by room-and-pillar, and by longwall methods. One of the consequences of mining is subsidence, and it is associated with past and present mine workings. Indeed, old abandoned coal mines worked by the room-and-pillar method, which occur at shallow depth, often present a potential hazard as pillars collapse or voids migrate to the surface. Frequently, the situation is compounded by the fact that such workings are unrecorded. Subsidence prediction in such cases is impossible. In longwall mining, the total extraction of panels takes place, the working face being supported, while support is removed from behind the working face allowing the roof to collapse. Subsidence consequent on longwall mining can be regarded as more or less contemporaneous with mining and is normally predictable. This means that it is possible to develop an area after subsidence due to longwall mining has occurred or to incorporate features into the design of buildings and structures that will accommodate ground movements generated by subsidence. The nature of subsidence can be affected by discontinuities in the surface strata or the presence of superficial deposits. Of course, subsidence can adversely affect existing buildings and structures which do not incorporate special design features. In severe cases of subsidence damage, buildings may have to be demolished. Important buildings may be restored. Another problem associated with subsidence is flooding due to notable lowering of the ground surface. Examples of such problems and solutions are highlighted by the examples given.

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