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Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 2008-18

High-resolution Seismic-reflection Imaging of I-70 Sinkholes, Russell County, Kansas

Richard D. Miller, Kansas Geological Survey, and
Don W. Steeples, Department of Geology, University of Kansas

KGS Open-file Report 2008-18
October 2008


Growth and associated subsurface development of the three sinkholes affecting Interstate Highway 70 between mile markers 178 and 180 in western Russell County, Kansas, were seismically imaged in 1980 and again in 2005. Seismic reflection imaging improved our understanding of the consistent, gradual surface subsidence ongoing at two sinkholes in the Gorham Oilfield discovered beneath a stretch of I-70 through Russell and Ellis counties in Kansas in 1966 and a third sinkhole discovered in 1980. Surface elevation monitoring of the approximately 10 cm/year subsidence since discovery has been beneficial, ensuring public safety and optimizing maintenance. A miniSOSIE reflection survey conducted in 1980 delineated the affected subsurface and successfully predicted development of the third sinkhole at this site. In 2004 and 2005 a high-resolution vibroseis survey was completed to ascertain current conditions of the subsurface, rate and pattern of growth since 1980, and potential for continued growth. With time and improved understanding of the salt dissolution affected subsurface in this area it appears that these features represent little risk to the public from catastrophic failure. However, from an operational perspective the Kansas Department of Transportation should expect continued subsidence, with future increases in surface area likely at a slightly reduced vertical rate. Seismic characteristics appear empirically consistent with gradual earth material compaction/settling.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geophysics
Placed online Dec. 19, 2008
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