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Nonconventional surface ground behavior induced by underground mining in Pennsylvania

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2015, Vol. 338, No. 1, pp. 467-475

Hebblewhite, B.; Gray, R.

Experience from Australia had identified what is referred to as nonconventional surface subsidence behavior. This occurs under irregular surface topography, resulting in valley closure, valley floor uplift or “upsidence,” and far-field horizontal movements, occurring even beyond conventional “angle of draw” limits. This paper discusses such behavior recently observed in Pennsylvania and focuses on the 2005 case of Duke Lake Dam in Ryerson Station State Park. In July 2005, there was a significant increase in water leakage through a number of growing cracks in the dam, leading to the dam being breached to avoid an uncontrolled failure. An underground longwall mine was located approximately 900 ft to the north, mining at depths of 330 to 720 ft. Investigations, including a subsequent ground movement monitoring program, found a range of evidence in the vicinity suggesting that valley closure and farfield horizontal movements may have occurred, resulting from the adjacent mining. Besides discussing the phenomenon of nonconventional subsidence behavior and the Ryerson State Park case study, this paper includes an assessment of the mining, geology and subsidence impacts and suggested ground behavioral mechanisms.