U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Bridges & Structures


Interstate Technical Group on Abandoned Underground Mines
An Interactive Forum

Technologies for Locating Mine Workings

Presenter: Dr. Don Steeples University/Organization: University of Kansas
Phone: 785-864-2730
Fax: 785-864-5276
Email: don@ku.edu
Mailing Address: 1475 Jayhawk Blvd.
Room 120
Lawrence, Kansas 66045


Locating underground mine workings in the absence of mine maps is not impossible, but it can be expensive and time consuming. Drilling enough vertical holes on a 3-foot grid will locate virtually any mine workings, but, in addition to the expense, it damages the Earth's surface and creates conduits for underground fluids, including pollutants that can degrade groundwater. Because of the time and expense associated with extensive drilling, remote sensing and geophysical methods have been employed to search for abandoned coal mine. The objective of geophysical surveys is to provide descriptive information about the physical characteristics of a three-dimensional volume of earth material, including the presence of voids. Because no geophysical technique is capable of performing optimally under all geological and topographic conditions, multiple geophysical techniques may be necessary to reduce the probability for error to an acceptable level. While these methods have proved successful in some cases, drilling is still necessary to confirm interpretations of geophysical and remote sensing data. In addition, the absence of evidence of a mine is not evidence of absence of a mine, and there are many opportunities for error in the modeling and geophysical surveys needed to detect voids. (NAS, 2002)

Forum Home

Updated: 06/29/2015
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000