Avoiding Impacts of Collapsed Mines on Railways: A Multidisciplinary Geophysical Detective Approach

by Arre Verweerd, Ph.D., Principal Geophysicist, Team Leader; AECOM-UK Geophysics, arre.verweerd@aecom.com,
Oliver Chrisp, Associate, Head; AECOM-UK Geophysics, oliver.chrisp@aecom.com,
Phil Arnold, Principal Geophysicist; AECOM-UK Geophysics, phil.arnold@aecom.com,

Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2018, Vol. 22, Issue 1, Pg. 56-61

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: The presence of abandoned mine workings can pose a significant risk to the use and development of surface structures above them, including railway lines. Typically, the adverse and often sudden effects of subsidence above mine workings are only observed after an incident has occurred. It's therefore important to assess these risks beforehand. Unfortunately, it's notoriously difficult and disruptive to railway traffic to conduct a proper and detailed investigation — as well as remediate potential problematic conditions — on an active railway network. Using near-surface geophysical investigation techniques before an intrusive subsurface investigation allows a first-pass classification and delineation of risk zones based on geophysical signatures like ground stability and stiffness, moisture content, and presence of voids. This approach can target potential zones of risk by using drilling and dynamic probing (a steel cone on rods driven into the ground by a hammer, similar to SPT testing), rather than a more typical, grid-based drilling investigation, which allows a comprehensive risk assessment in this challenging working environment.

Subject Headings: Risk management | Rail transportation | Mines and mining | Subsurface investigation | Drilling | Penetration tests | Structural failures | Land subsidence


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