UMR experts conduct geophysical survey of Southwest Missouri sinkhole

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On August 18, 2006

Two researchers from the University of Missouri-Rolla are conducting ground surveys at the site of a Southwest Missouri home that is in the process of being swallowed by a sinkhole.

Dr. Neil Anderson, a professor of geological engineering, and Dr. Derek Apel, an assistant professor of mining engineering, started geophysical survey scans at the site on Sunday, Aug. 20. The process is expected to take three days. The two UMR researchers will utilize electrical resistivity and acoustic imaging technology to determine if the sinkhole endangers other homes in the area.

The main house in question is in a Nixa, Mo., neighborhood. The house started sinking when the ground below it failed earlier this month. Geological ground surveys were not conducted before the homes in the neighborhood were built.

The researchers plan to image the subsurface around the collapsed sinkhole. “Nixa city officials need to know if the existing sinkhole could expand and impact a larger area,” Anderson says.

Missouri is known for its caves, which are formed when limestone dissolves through water erosion. Sinkholes are the surface openings to underground caves.

Anderson and Apel have previously conducted geophysical surveys for the Missouri Department of Transportation. They have been successful in imaging the subsurface and have identified areas that required pre-construction mitigation.

“There are ways to backfill sinkholes, depending on the size and cost,” Apel says.


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On August 18, 2006. Posted in Research