Modeling agricultural impacts of longwall mine subsidence: A GIS approach

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


both a major agricultural state and one of the leading coal-producing states in the U.S. The future of coal mining in Illinois and in other similar areas is longwall mining. One of the advantages of longwall mining, and the most noticeable consequence, is immediate lowering, or subsidence, of the land above the active mine. Having immediate subsidence is advantageous because it can be dealt with or mitigated soon after it happens. With conventional mining, subsidence is unexpected and therefore if it occurs, it is unpredictable. Mitigation of subsidence effects, including the impact on agriculture, is the responsibility of the mining company. Research has shown that mitigation of agricultural impacts is usually effective, but may not be fully successful in some cases. Minimizing subsidence impact by avoiding sensitive soils in the mine plan is a possibility that should be considered. Predicting agricultural impacts of subsidence would give mine designers and regulating agencies an additional tool to use when evaluating mine plans. This paper reports on the development and an application of a predictive model of agricultural soil subsidence sensitivity (SSS). The SSS model involves integration of selected soil properties in a GIS (geographical information system) to assign a subsidence sensitivity score to a given area. Predicted annual crop yield losses at a proposed longwall mine in southern Illinois, using corn (Zea mays L.) as a reference, were 6.8% for the longwall panel area but ranged from 4.1% to 9.5% for the individual panels. The model also predicted that mitigation of the affected areas would reduce average annual crop yield losses to 1.2% for the entire longwall area. Individual mine panels would have annual crop yield losses of from 0.5% to 1.7% after mitigation. Coal mining and agriculture are both land-intensive industries that often operate in the same area. Illinois, for example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages6
Specialist publicationInternational Journal of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Environment
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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