HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett has announced that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched Pennsylvania Mine Map Atlas, an online underground mine map viewer. Pennsylvania Mine Map Atlas allows residents and stakeholders to see detailed underground mine maps that were once only available in hard copies.
“This digital mapping project is a major accomplishment,” Corbett said. “DEP is now providing public access to a wealth of information about undermined areas, enhancing our ability to safeguard structures in Pennsylvania’s mining regions.”
Over a period of more than 10 years, DEP has identified and scanned in excess of 15,000 hard copy mine maps. To date, approximately half of those scanned maps have been geographically located on the earth’s surface using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, a process known as “georeferencing.” Maps are continuously being scanned into high-resolution images, georeferenced and added to the atlas; more than 40,000 have yet to be scanned.
The atlas features enhanced search tools and views; and it allows users to download and print maps—a beneficial function for engineers and stakeholders from various industries.
Another important feature of the Pennsylvania Mine Map Atlas is its ability to measure the distance from a mine to a specific structure. This function will help identify homes and other structures at risk for mine subsidence, ground movement caused by the collapse of old, abandoned mines.
If the atlas shows that a home sits on or in close proximity to an undermined area, Mine Subsidence Insurance (MSI) is recommended. MSI protects property owners from damage caused by mine subsidence, which is typically excluded from home owners’ insurance policies.
At a cost of $51,541, the Pennsylvania Mine Map Atlas was a joint initiative of DEP’s Mine Subsidence Insurance Program and Penn State’s Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access Program. The project was funded by the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation’s general operations budget. These monies come from fines, penalties, permits and licenses paid by the mining industry.