Friday, 21 November 2014

Giant sinkhole opens up in Perm Region of Russia.

Residents are expressing concern after a giant sinkhole, measuring 20 m by 30 m, opened up near an abandoned potash mine near Solikamsk in the Perm Region of Russia. The sinkhole was discovered on 18 November 2014, by workers at the Uralkali operated Solikamsk-2 Mine, which is connected to the now abandoned Solikamsk-1 Mine, where the hole appeared, following in inrush of saline water which flooded parts of the mine, causing workers to be evacuated and production to be temporarily halted.

The sinkhole at the Solikamsk-1 Potash Mine. Uralkali Press Service.

The sinkhole is about 3.2 km from the nearest residences, but geologists from Uralkali who have visited the site do not believe that it will grow sufficiently to be a threat, suggesting that it could grow to at most about 50 m by 60 m. However many residents have expressed concern about the event, as the Solikamsk-1 mineworkings are extensive in the area, and believed to underlie much of the town.

The Solikamsk-1 mine was abandoned in 2006, following a major water inflow, which led to a large sinkhole forming in the town of  Berezniki. A second sinkhole opened up in Berezniki in 2010, closing part of the local railway network and a third in 2011, this time 137 m across and also connected to the disused mine and close to a residential area.

Sinkholes are generally caused by water eroding soft limestone or unconsolidated deposits from beneath, causing a hole that works its way upwards and eventually opening spectacularly at the surface. Where there are unconsolidated deposits at the surface they can infill from the sides, apparently swallowing objects at the surface, including people, without trace. Potash, a potassium salt, is readily soluble and can be dissolved quickly if water gains access to deposits, leading to the rapid formation of sinkholes. In the case of Solikamsk it is likely that the mine has served as a conduit for flood waters, enabling it to reach and rapidly erode a series of potash deposits, leading to the formation of giant sinkholes.

See also...

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