This paper reports on the design and implementation of a program to monitor the surface effects of longwall mining-induced subsidence on wine grape yields within vineyards of Australia's Hunter Valley. Implemented in 2003, this five-year project incorporated a multi-scale, multi-temporal, sliding window monitoring design synchronised with progression of longwall panels. On the vineyard-block scale, individual vine panels were sampled for grape yield. On the regional scale measures of vine photosynthetically active biomass were obtained from remotely sensed, Quickbird satellite imagery. All data were analysed in conjunction with three identified subsidence "zones": minimum subsidence associated with chain-pillars, maximum subsidence associated with the longwall, and a zone corresponding to the transition between them. Visual observations conducted throughout the campaign confirmed the occurrence of isolated localised surface cracking, particularly in areas of maximum soil tension. However, both vineyard and block-scale data indicated no obvious, systematic mining-induced viticultural effects in the study site investigated during the study period. Rather, observed trends in vine yields were better explained by vine biophysical responses to climatic factors.
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Acknowledgments The work associated with this project was overseen by a steering committee comprising mining company representatives, vignerons, university researchers, and environmental regulators from the New South Wales government. Funding for this project and post-graduate scholarship were provided by Beltana Highwall Mining Pty Ltd. The authors wish to thank Don Kay of Mine Subsidence Engineering Consultants, Dr Richard Smart of Smart Viticulture, Umwelt Environmental Consults, the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, and the NSW Department of Lands for providing advice and access to data. The authors also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments, which also helped improve this manuscript.
- Hunter valley
- Longwall mining
- Subsidence impacts