There are fears the West Cork sinkhole could get bigger due to the old copper mines in the area

There are fears the West Cork sinkhole could get bigger due to the old copper mines in the area
The hole has developed in recent days on a road between Castletownbere and Allihies. Picture credit: Balooz.com

THE road between Castletownbere and Allihies remains closed today as Cork County Council attempts to deal with the large sinkhole that has developed on the public road.

It appears that the sinkhole is linked to the collapse of a mine shaft in Cahermeeleboe, Allihies. 

While the road has been closed and barriers have been erected to prevent access to the area, there is the potential that this hole will become further enlarged, given the unknown ground conditions, and therefore Cork County Council urges vigilance and advises that caution should be exercised by all in this area.

Workers at Allihies copper mines. 
Workers at Allihies copper mines. 

The area was a mining location for copper in the 19th century and early 20th century.

The mountains surrounding Allihies consist predominantly of Old Red Sandstone dating from the Devonian Period, approximately 530 million years. 

The rocks were formed from sediments produced under extreme desert conditions, such as now existing in the Sahara Desert.

Devonian sedimentary rocks form much of west County Cork, consisting largely of the compressed, sheared, contorted siltstones and sandstones of the Variscan mountain building episode. 

Around Allihies, they extend eastward from the coast, and inland into the mountains beyond the village.

Where veins of either direction intersect one another, an S or Z bend is sometimes formed, often enriched in copper minerals.

During the last two centuries, commercial interest lay in metalliferous (Quartz)veins containing copper minerals injected into fractures coursing variously east to west or north-north-east within the Devonian sediments.

Interior shot of workers at Allihies copper mines. 
Interior shot of workers at Allihies copper mines. 

The County Council is monitoring the situation and staff are currently endeavoring to ascertain contact information for the owners of the mine. 

Separately Cork County Council has asked the Exploration and Mining Division of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to undertake a survey of the area as a matter of urgency, to determine the extent of the undermining and the potential risk of further collapses in this area.

Cork County Council urges all members of the public not to go near to the sinkhole and to not go beyond the safety barriers.

Further information will issue as this situation develops.

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