You’re sitting in you living room. Cuddled up on the couch with your dog watching your favorite late night show. You turn to the coffee table to the left of you, pick up your drink, take a sip, and place it back on its coaster where you retrieved it. As you cozy back in place, you sense an unease. You look at the table where your glass is seated and notice the liquid is shaking back and forth. Then, a loud crash like sound hits and dust sprinkles down from above. The unease stops, and you look up to where the dust came from to find a crack in your ceiling. You don’t live by a tectonic plate; you live in the Midwest. How could an earthquake occur here? Well its not an earthquake, rather a mine collapse.
In 2017, a Wadsworth couple experienced a similar occurrence. Their home was cracking at the ceiling, basement floor and walls. Forced to leave her home, Connie Betchel had experienced an abandoned mine shaft—85 feet below the surface—collapse (Jones).
Abandoned mines can be found throughout the state of Ohio. In the height of Ohio’s underground mining in the early 1900s, over 1,110 mines were in operation (Geosurvey).
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There are roughly 8,000 mines abandoned in Ohio throughout 41 counties (Crowell). Though the odds of an earthquake sensation—mine subsidence—affects very few people, Ohio has had a history with the problem.
Subsidence—when it comes to mining –occurs when bedrock and unconsolidated materials collapse into underground mine voids (Geosurvey). Because mine excavations create stress on the surrounding rock, there is an uneven distribution of the tension in turn causing the earthquake like simulation and mine collapse (Fougler).
(Courtesy of Crowell)
Though it is scary to think about, few people experience a mine subsidence (Crowell). The damage however, can be costly. Interstate 70 experienced the ravages of a mine subsidence in March of 1995. The destruction caused repairs of up to $3.6 million (Crowell). For Connie Betchel, the damage done to her home cost an estimate $200,000(Jones). Though we cannot predict when a mine will collapse, there are preventative measures home owners can take.
In 1985, Ohio established the Ohio Mine Subsidence Insurance Law, requiring mine subsidence coverage for all homeowners’ insurance policies in 26 Ohio counties (Geosurvey). These counties include: Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Scioto, Stark, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton, and Washington (Crowell).
Crowell, D. (2010). GeoFacts. 12th ed. [ebook] Ohio Department of Natural Resources,
pp.1-2. Retrieved from:http://geosurvey.ohiodnr.gov/Portals/geosurvey/PDFs
Fougler, G., Wilson, M., Gluyas, J., Julian, B. and Davies, R. (2017). Global review of
human-induced earthquakes. [ebook] Elsevier B.V, pp.1-77. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.07.008.
Geosurvey.ohiodnr.gov. (2018). AUM Home. [online] Available at:
Jones, B. (2017). Residents forced from their homes in Wadsworth where mine collapse
may have damaged condos. News 5 Cleveland. Retrieved from: https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/oh-medina/wadsworth-residents-forced-from-homes-after-shifting-causes-wall-and-foundation-damage.