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Margaret Street Sinkhole Investigation

Margaret Street Sinkhole Investigation
08 August 2023

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City of Mount Gambier continues to investigate the sinkhole located in the walkway between Margaret Street and the Railway Lands that appeared after the bitumen collapsed at 7:10am on Sunday 25 June 2023 following heavy rain.

Initially, an excavator was used to remove the rubble in the sinkhole that measures 7 metres deep, 12 metres in length and 4 metres in width.

Margaret Street Sinkhole Excavation Work
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Council then partnered with local geoscientist Ian Lewis to investigate the sinkhole.

“It appears to be a naturally occurring cave that has collapsed,” Mr Lewis said.

“A drone was used to provide a closer look at what we are dealing with. I could see from the footage that there was at least 10.5 metres of volcanic soil and ash in the hole, not rock or limestone, all the way down into the bottom of the hole and out of sight. This could have been an indication that the hole was not stable, therefore we didn’t want to take any risks and put a person in the hole if there was any risk of a soil collapse.”

Council’s engineers fitted a remote-control rover with a Gopro camera on top, to go down into the sinkhole to take measurements and provide detailed footage of the volcanic ash and soil profile to enable the investigation to go ahead safely. This investigation indicated that no limestone is visible in the walls of the sinkhole.

A remote control rover was fitted with a Gopro camera to investigate conditions in the sinkhole.
A remote control rover was fitted with a Gopro camera to investigate conditions in the sinkhole.

“It is most likely that an old cave has collapsed in the limestone deep down and all the heavy soil on top that has been piled up in that old sinkhole has sunk down about seven metres after it became wet following the heavy rain. It's all ash - a soil type ash. Over thousands of years, that ash develops into soil. And that's what we are seeing here,” Mr Lewis said.

“We've had a really close look at it over the last few weeks and we've all concluded that after the initial collapse there has not been any further settling or movement.”

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Council is currently seeking further independent advice before taking action on site.

“We’ll send the initial report through to another independent expert to ensure that we’re on the right track and able to identify the right materials and the right compaction rate required to fill the sinkhole,” General Manager City Infrastructure Barbara Cernovskis said.

Council is working with adjoining property owners to ensure safety in the vicinity of the impacted area.

Council is monitoring the site and has extended the barrier surrounding the sinkhole to ensure public safety. Please stay away from the area.

“We have cordoned off both access ends to the walkway, which means that access to those public toilets won’t be possible for the short term to be able to keep people safe and out of the area,” Ms Cernovskis said.

Media contact: City of Mount Gambier Media and Communications Coordinator Sharny McLean on 0413 798 327 or