Friday 28 September 2018

Gaelic football club forced to close due to sinkholes in County Monaghan, Northern Ireland.

A Gaelic football club has been forced to close after a sinkhole opened up on Sunday 23 September 2018, damaging all of its pitches, as well as its clubhouse, five nearby houses and two sections of public road, which have also been closed off. The damage includes an area of subsidence about 120 m across, with two deeper holes within it. The Magheracloone Mitchells GAA club in County Monaghan, Northern Ireland, has now concluded that the site will not be able to re-open in the near future, and is looking for an alternative location.

Damage caused to the Magheracloone Mitchells Gaelic Football Club by a sinkhole in September 2018. BBC.

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.

In this case the damage is thought to be related to old mineworkings beneath the area. The club lies above an old excavation by British Gypsum, which produces gypsum for use in plasterboard, connected to a mine still in use nearby. Since the event the company has admitted that it has recently started using the abandoned part of the mine to store water, which has led to the collapse of several supporting pillars (columns of unmined material, left in place to support the roof of a mine while excavations continue around them) beneath the area.

Damage to the pitch of the Magheracloone Mitchells Gaelic Football Club caused by a sinkhole. Border Region TV.

Gypsum is an evaporate rock, a form of calcium sulphate deposited as mineral-rich water evaporates, often around sulphurous hot springs or volcanic systems. It is a very soft rock, and soluble in water, so moisture entering gypsum deposits can cause major collapses and subsidence.

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