WADSWORTH TOWNSHIP – State and county officials believe that a sink hole, a natural depression or hole in the earth’s surface, found in the back of a residential property on Bear Run Road could be the result of a nearby abandoned coal mine.
According to Jeff Van Loon, district manager of the Medina Soil and Water Conservation District, there are a number of abandoned coal mines under the ground in the Wadsworth area. He added that these mines can cause issues such as sink holes.
“Most of the mines in these areas were abandoned around the 1850s, but there are mines in the Wadsworth area and also some as far north as Sharon and some that spill over into Summit County,” Van Loon said.
Todd Gleydura of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management, said that a preliminary investigation has indicated that the sink hole is a result of a nearby abandoned coal mine.
“We have maps of where many of these coal mines are located,” Gleydura said. “But for every mine we know of, there is another that we don’t know about.”
The sink hole is approximately 20 feet round and about 12 to 15 feet deep. The sink hole is about 40 feet away from the home on the property. The property owner, Larry Palmer, was unable to be reached for comment.
“We investigate these situations and, if we determine that the sink hole is caused by a coal mine, we will do work to stabilize or correct the situation,” Gleydura said.
Because the sink hole on Bear Run is so close to the house on the property, the Division of Mineral Resources Management plans to work quickly to stabilize it.
“We prioritize sink holes to minimize any impact on public safety,” Gleydura said.
Tim Jackson, from the Division of Mineral Resources Management, said that his agency will investigate further to determine the exact cause of the sink hole or subsidence.
“If the subsidence is caused by the collapse of an abandoned coal mine, then our program can proceed with a stabilization project,” Jackson said. “Generally, a subsidence like this can be stabilized by excavating in and round the subsidence to the mine or until stable soil is encountered. “
Jackson said that the excavation will be lined with filter fabric and stone will be placed and covered with filter fabric. The stone will create a plug type structure which will add stability to the site.
The excavated soil will be placed on top of the stone plug and the ground surface will be mounded slightly and re-vegetated.
Workers from the Division of Mineral Resources have erected a fence around the sink hole to keep people away from danger.
“The good thing is that the sink hole is on private property and not in a public area where a lot of people could be tromping around,” Gleydura said.