Into The Void: Mapping Abandoned Mines In 3D


Ruane envisions the final product being available online, so a resident could type in an address and see a picture of his or her location with an image of the mines underneath.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” he said. He also thinks the digital maps will cut down on the research time needed for claims. “If we have that information in electronic form, what would take maybe days to research, they may be able to research in minutes,” Ruane said.

The Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation has already worked for years to define the boundaries of the mine pool. It was one of seven entities that received DEP grants to do the additional mapping. The other six grants went to colleges or universities.

DEP spokeswoman Amanda Witman said grant recipients will scan roughly 27,000 out of the 55,000 mine maps the department knows about. A few thousand will be used to create the new maps.

“This program basically allows us to share the burden of being able to examine, preserve, digitize, georeference and upload those maps,” Witman said.

After the maps are finished, DEP will use them on its new Pennsylvania Mine Map Atlas,, which Witman said went online in May. DEP launched the website on May 30 after scanning and uploading 15,000 maps, a process that took 10 years.

The funding used to create the atlas and issue the grants came from coal mining license and permit fees, fines and penalties gathered under the Pennsylvania Surface Mining and Reclamation Act, Witman said.

“Between their work and the work we have already done, there is still an opportunity out there to do even more for the Mine Map Atlas to make it as comprehensive as possible,” Witman said in an email.

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