Unstable Ground: A Volunteer Helps with China’s Sinkhole Problem (Photo Essay)


August 1, 2014 — IESC is delivering a new volunteer program in China. Experienced industry experts go for short-term consultations to advise Chinese organizations on global best practices and standards. Among our first group of experts, who will soon return to the U.S., is Ted Smith, a sinkhole expert from Florida, who traveled to Shandong and Shanxi Provinces to assess and advise on China’s significant sinkhole problem.

In Zibo, Shandong Province, volunteer sinkhole expert Ted Smith visited four abandoned mining sites
and a well-drilling site used for multiple purposes, including, mapping, monitoring, and eventually
drinking and irrigation water supply. Photo: Andy Sun.
In Taiyuan, Shanxi, Ted Smith gets a fuller understanding of understanding of the extent of the
region’s sinkhole problem. At a land subsiding site near an abandoned mining area, there is a
significant crack on the entire slope of a mountain and the rupture of a roadway along with
several sinkholes. Photo: Andy Sun
China’s sinkhole problem has made some areas uninhabitable and required the resettlement of entire villages.
Ted Smith met with local senior officials at one such resettlement to talk about the programs they have implemented
in the past decade to help those former villagers. Photo: Andy Sun
Ted Smith visits the Shanxi Geological Museum. Photo: Andy Sun