Date of Award
Colorado, underground coal mines, subsidence hazards, Geographic Information System (GIS)
Heather B. Hicks
The state of Colorado has an extensive history of subsurface coal mining. Due to the widespread extraction of coal, numerous subsidence events have occurred, causing both costly and potentially dangerous conditions. The two most common types of underground coal mines in Colorado are slope and shaft mines, which are prone to roof collapse that can propagate to the surface in the form of sinkholes and troughs. Sinkholes and troughs can occur over prolonged periods of time or as instantaneous events, which may leave landowners little reaction time and expensive repairs. As of January 2010, no spatial database existed that covered all subsidence events for the state of Colorado, which caused difficulties for developers, government agencies, and the general public when attempting to identify subsidence hazards. The Colorado Geologic Survey recognized the necessity of locating past subsidence events and has funded a project that utilizes a Geographic Information System (GIS), on an ESRI geodatabase platform, to identify and visualize such events. Subsidence events were collected from several primary sources including the Mine Subsidence Information Center (MSIC) at the Colorado Geological Survey (CGS), the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), the Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety (DRMS), and various historic article and newspaper clippings. Several hundred subsidence events were then organized and catalogued into a file geodatabase using automated and manual entry from spreadsheets, reports, and maps. This file geodatabase uses domains, both coded and range, to simplify and standardize common data input, which will allow an efficient flow of information into the geodatabase for future subsidence events. Hyperlinks were attached to subsidence events within the file geodatabase so that users can dynamically link to scanned documents and images about a specific subsidence event. Several GIS mapping interfaces were constructed, for data input, query, and analysis by the CGS, and for outside users to navigate the map and export reports and images of subsidence events in a user friendly format. The purpose of this project was to use proper documentation of past subsidence events to identify future subsidence hazards. The subsidence events GIS will allow users the ability to rapidly query and analyze historic subsidence data, view images of subsidence events, and export documents and reports of subsidence events, thereby optimizing the safe, efficient and economic planning of building developments.
Strickler, Charles J., "GIS Applications for Coal Mine Subsidence in the State of Colorado" (2010). Geography & the Environment Graduate Student Capstones. 11.