Utah Mine: Mountain Bump or ‘This Mountain is Collapsing’?

“I don’t think I’m going too far to say that this mountain is collapsing in slow motion.” – Lee Siegel, University of Utah seismograph station spokesman

As rescuers in Huntington, Utah suffer the loss of three of their own and the fate of the six trapped is still unknown, something strikes me as odd.

The owner and others associated with the mine have repeatedly put politically correct terms in place of the word “collapse,” i.e.; seismic activity, mountain, bump, etc. I heard a report this morning that basically said there is a good possibility the whole darn mountain is collapsing inward.

Could this mountain have been overmined? Not stable enough to mine anymore? So, enough of this seismic activity stuff…the real deal looks to be a mountain collapsing because of mining. With respect to everyone affected and involved in the tragedies at Crandall Canyon, I know there will be time for more definitive answers, but lets stop sugar-coating what appears to be caused not by “mother nature” but by, simply put, mining.

– Alexander, TheScroogeReport

From AP:

The cave-in at 6:39 p.m. was believed to be caused by what seismologists call a “mountain bump,” in which shifting ground forces chunks of rock from the walls. Seismologists say such a bump caused the Aug. 6 cave-in that trapped the six men more than 3 miles inside the central Utah mine.

The force from the bump registered a 1.6 at the University of Utah seismograph stations in Salt Lake City, said university spokesman Lee Siegel. It was the 20th reading at the university since the original collapse, which registered a 3.9 on Aug. 6.

“These events seem to be related to ongoing settling of the rock mass following the main event,” Siegel said Friday morning. “I don’t think I’m going too far to say that this mountain is collapsing in slow motion.”

Even though I am not a big Reuters fan…they are telling it like it is:

Rescuers in Utah on Friday suspended their effort to dig a tunnel to search for six trapped coal miners after a major cave-in killed three rescue workers and injured another six.

More from Reuters (it’s now apparent that it is safer to call an ace an ace…we still can be mindful of relatives and friends’ grief).

“Yesterday we went from a tragedy to a catastrophe,” said Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman outside the Crandall Canyon mine as he called for new efforts to make mining safer in his state and the country.

The cave-in, which occurred about 6:35 p.m. MDT (0035 GMT), was called a “mountain bump” — an eruption of rock and coal under pressure from overhead rock as drilling removes surrounding rock and material shifts.

Seismologists at the University of Utah said they recorded waves from the bump “consistent with further settling and collapse within the mountain.”

It remains unclear what caused the first collapse. Owner Robert Murray has said it was triggered by an earthquake; geologists say it was not.

Controversy also rose over reports that the miners were engaged in dangerous “retreat mining” when the shaft collapsed. Murray has denied such a technique was being used. Retreat mining involves supporting a mine’s roof with a column of coal, then removing that pillar and allowing the shaft to collapse as miners move to safety.

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