ABSTRACT

A study was conducted to determine whether the structural failure of a house in a residential subdivision in southern Illinois was caused by the collapse of an old underground coal mine (i.e. mine subsidence) or as a result of a landslide. The house was displaced approximately 5 m downhill towards an engineered lake behind it. To detect any old mines near the house, we acquired high-resolution S-wave seismic reflection profiles along the roads surrounding the subdivision and a series of high-resolution P-wave reflection profiles in the immediate vicinity of the house. The S-wave seismic reflection profiles imaged a strong shallow horizon that we interpreted as Pennsylvanian siltstone overlying the Mecca Quarry Shale and Colchester Coal, which had been previously mined in the area. Locally, this horizon showed no evidence of any recent mining activities. The high-resolution P-wave reflection profiles imaged a steeply dipping bedrock with a 20° dip at the house location. These results exclude mine subsidence from being the cause for the house failure. To investigate land sliding as a possible cause of the house failure, depths to bedrock from the seismic results together with the soil type information were used to model the soil materials with a Mohr-Coulomb stress-strain model. The engineering model demonstrated that a land slide is a more plausible cause for the house failure, which agrees with the seismic results.

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