Skip to main content
main-content

2016 | Buch

The Impact of Mining on the Landscape

A Study of the Upper Silesian Coal Basin in Poland

share
TEILEN
insite
SUCHEN

Über dieses Buch

This book investigates the Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB), one of the oldest and largest mining areas not only in Poland but also in Europe. Using uniform research methods for the whole study area, it also provides a summary of the landscape transformations. Intensive extraction of hard coal, zinc and lead ores, stowing sands and rock resources have caused such extensive transformations of landscape that it can be considered a model anthropogenic relief. The book has three main focuses: 1) Identifying anthropogenic forms of relief related to mining activity and presenting them from a spatial, genetic and age perspective; 2) Determining the changes in the morphometric characteristics of relief and the conditions for matter circulation in open systems (drainage basins) and closed systems (land-locked basins) caused by the extraction of mineral resources; and 3) Estimating the extent of anthropogenic denudation using two different methods based on raw-material output and morphometric analysis. In Poland, no other mining area has undergone such intensive mining activity as the Upper Silesian Coal Basin during the last half century. Its share in the total extraction of mineral resources was as high as 32%. The total extraction of hard coal in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin from the mid-18th century until 2009 was the sixth largest in the world, and the permanent, regional effects of mining anthropopressure on the relief are among the most severe in the world. The anthropogenic denudation rate in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin, as well as the Ruhr Coal Basin (Ruhr District) and the Ostrava-Karvina Coal Basin, ranges from several dozen up to several hundred times higher than the rate of natural denudation, irrespective of the calculation method used. It would take the natural denudation processes tens of thousands of years to remove the same amount of material from the substratum as that removed through human mining activity.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter
Chapter 1. Introduction
Abstract
Mining has accompanied man since the dawn of history, but it has made a significant mark on the landscape in only the last 250 years. In areas of intense mining, the movement of rock and soil masses is reflected in the denudation balance. The application of different calculation methods found that anthropogenic denudation is at least several times greater than natural denudation in many areas. Man is therefore an important geomorphological and landscape shaping factor. The impact of mining on the relief may be direct and indirect; it includes the creation of anthropogenic landforms, morphometric changes in the characteristics of the pre-mining relief, and changes in the course of geomorphological processes. This chapter focuses on the presentation of the conditions and the manner of emergence for continuous and discontinuous deformations in areas of underground mining. Model examples of mining and post-mining landscapes come from the Upper Silesian Coal Basin located in southern Poland. It is one of the oldest and largest mining areas in Europe. Based on an analysis of the natural environment features, the study area was divided into three zones—Carboniferous, Triassic and Miocene—which differ in geological structure, hydrogeological conditions, mineral resources, and the consequent degree of mining anthropopressure. Source materials are characterized and two methods of calculating anthropogenic denudation are presented—one based on the output of raw materials and the other based on morphometric analysis.
Renata Dulias
Chapter 2. A Brief History of Mining in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin
Abstract
Mining in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin (USCB) has a thousand years of history. It was initiated in the Middle Ages with the exploitation of iron, silver, and lead ores. Since the Industrial Revolution, coal, zinc and lead ores have been extracted, along with rock materials, mainly limestone, dolomite and stowing sands. Within the USCB, numerous mines operated, including Fryderyk, a large lead and silver mine; Trzebionka, one of the world’s largest mines of zinc and lead ores; and Orzeł Biały, one of the largest mining and metallurgical enterprises in Europe. The total output of ores until 2009 amounted to about 200 million tonnes. In terms of output, coal was the most significant, with nearly 10.7 billion tonnes of it being extracted, including more than 70 % after the Second World War. As a result of the restructuring of the mining industry in the 1990s, unprofitable mines were closed down; currently, in 27 active mines, approximately 75 million tonnes of coal is extracted per year, which makes it the highest in Europe. In the twentieth century, large-scale exploitation of stowing sands began: 1.75 billion tonnes were extracted, of which more than 90 % were from 6 large sandpits. The total output of the of Upper Silesian Coal Basin so far includes more than 13 billion tonnes of various minerals and at least 2.1 billion tonnes of waste rock, which places it among Europe’s largest mining areas.
Renata Dulias
Chapter 3. Anthropogenic Landforms in the Upper Silesian Coal BasinUpper Silesian Coal Basin
Abstract
The chapter characterizes direct and indirect anthropogenic landforms. It presents their origins, morphometric characteristics, age, and location in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin. The most distinctive elements of the landscape are stowing sandpits—over 100 of them—with a total area of more than 76 km2 and a volume of more than 1 billion m3, with the Szczakowa sandpit being one of the largest in Europe. Important elements of the landscape are spoil tips of various shapes and sizes, which constitute a total of more than 300 forms that accumulate approximately 974 million tonnes of waste, mainly from mining but also from the energy and steel industries. The largest area (1,125 km2) is occupied by subsidence troughs. They were characterized in relation to the distinct geological zones—Carboniferous, Triassic, and Miocene. The volume of subsidence troughs exceeds 4.1 billion m3, with several forms being the largest in Europe and reaching a depth of approximately 35 m. The chapter also provides a detailed description of sinkholes associated with the former shallow exploitation of coal and zinc and lead ores.
Renata Dulias
Chapter 4. Changes in Morphometric Parameters of Terrain Caused by Mining
Abstract
This chapter presents the impact of mining on the changes of morphometric features of the relief of 25 geomorphological units and 3 geological zones within the Upper Silesian Coal Basin, based on analysis of digital elevation models for 1883 and 1993. Large-scale changes in the absolute and relative heights and the inclinations of slopes are mainly related to mining subsidence, whereas small-scale changes are clearly a consequence of the formation of high spoil tips and deep excavations. In the entire mining zone, the areas of higher altitudes (>280 m above sea level) decreased, and the size of the areas located below 250 m above sea level increased. The average elevation of the terrain in most geomorphological units decreased—in extreme cases, up to 4.5 m. More than 77 % of the study area is characterized by higher relative heights than in the pre-mining period. It was further noticed that the area of lowland decreased (by over 113 km2) in favour of slopes with an inclination of 1°–5°. These changes in the morphometric characteristics of the relief increase the potential for erosion and denudation in the area of the USCB.
Renata Dulias
Chapter 5. Changes in the Circulation of Matter in Drainage Basins
Abstract
This chapter presents changes in the conditions of the circulation of matter in open systems (drainage basins) as a consequence of mining activity, particularly mining subsidence, the formation of anthropogenic landforms, changes in morphometric features of the relief, and physico-chemical characteristics of surface sediments. The study included 48 rivers of different rank, with a total length of 430 km. Analysis was conducted in relation to the three zones of the fluvial system—the production, transfer, and deposition zones. It was found that contemporary conditions of the circulation of matter have significantly altered in comparison to conditions present in the pre-mining period. In most of the studied catchment areas, the inclination of slopes and the energy of the relief increased; in addition, rivers have changed their drops, reduced the base-levels of erosion, increased flows as a result of “alien” water supply, and clearly altered the geometry of the beds. Because of the uneven distribution of subsidence troughs in different parts of the studied catchment areas, an average drop of rivers in the Vistula basin has been reduced; in the case of the rivers belonging to the Oder basin, it has increased. Thus, natural differences in the erosion potential of both drainage basins have increased.
Renata Dulias
Chapter 6. Changes in the Circulation of Matter in Landlocked Basins
Abstract
The most significant change in the circulation of matter in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin as a consequence of mining activity is the creation of numerous landlocked basins. Most of them are subsidence troughs; some result from the damming of a valley with a waste heap or fencing it off with mine tailing embankments with a flood-preventing function. A total of 233 landlocked basins were identified, with a total area of 122 km2. These forms are found mainly in the north-central part of the USCB, especially in the Siemianowice Upland, which was partially excluded from fluvial drainage. The essence of the circulation of matter in landlocked basins is its accumulation at the bottom of the forms. This process involves mineral matter from slopewashing blurring the edges of water reservoirs, wet and dry deposition from the atmosphere, and decomposed organic matter. The creation of landlocked basins has changed the conditions of the circulation of matter, especially in the area of the Vistula–Oder watershed, which is built of Triassic rocks with a cover of Quaternary clay deposits.
Renata Dulias
Chapter 7. Anthropogenic Denudation Rate in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin
Abstract
The history of economic development in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin indicates that anthropogenic denudation here is mostly caused by mining and is primarily associated with the mining of coal and stowing sand. This chapter presents anthropogenic denudation rates calculated by two methods: one is based on the volume of raw materials and waste rock output (within the limits of individual mines), whereas the other is based on morphometric analysis with the use of digital elevation models. The results, based on the first method, indicate that the mining area subsided by an average of 2.8 m, on average by 12 mm/year. In the areas of some of the coal mines, anthropogenic denudation was over 150 mm/year; for stowing sand mines, it was more than 600 mm/year. Anthropogenic denudation rates calculated on the basis of morphometric analysis for geomorphological units are in the range of 2–43 mm/year; however, for some catchments located within them, they exceed 50 mm/year—even up to 80 mm/year. This chapter also presents a forecast for anthropogenic denudation for three geological zones, which is revealed to be highest in the Miocene zone in the next several dozen years due to the largest reserves of coal.
Renata Dulias
Chapter 8. Anthropogenic Denudation Rate in Other Mining Areas
Abstract
This chapter characterizes the mining movement of rock masses in Poland as a result of the exploitation of 12 major mineral resources. It also estimates the intensity of the resulting anthropogenic denudation and aggradation. Over 50 years (1960–2009) in Poland, 20.6 billion tonnes of mineral resources were extracted, mainly rock and energy materials. A more intense movement of rock masses was associated with open-pit mining (810,000 tonnes/km of the mining area) than with underground mining (68,000 tonnes/km), which translated into anthropogenic denudation rates that were even dozens of times higher. This chapter also presents the impact of coal mining on the relief of two European basins: the Ostrava-Karvina Basin and the Ruhr Basin. In the former, the average rate of denudation within individual mines was in the range of 28–136 mm/year; in the latter, it averaged several to 40 mm/year. These indicators are several times greater than the rate of natural denudation. The relief of the analysed areas in the last century was therefore under the prominent influence of mining activities.
Renata Dulias
Chapter 9. Conclusions
Abstract
In a thousand-year period of mining in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin, more than 13 billion tonnes of mineral resources and approximately 2–4 billion tonnes of waste rock were extracted from the bedrock. Most of these rock masses (98 %), however, were extracted in the past 100 years, and 94 % of them were associated with the exploitation of coal and stowing sand.
Renata Dulias
Backmatter
Metadaten
Titel
The Impact of Mining on the Landscape
verfasst von
Renata Dulias
Copyright-Jahr
2016
Electronic ISBN
978-3-319-29541-1
Print ISBN
978-3-319-29539-8
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-29541-1