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  Geotimes - May 2008 - Staufen is sinking

Staufen is sinking

Last year the tiny town of Staufen, Germany, decided to go green by installing geothermal heating in its 462-year-old town hall. Today, parts of the historic town are slowly sinking — and, according to an engineer hired to look into the matter, the town’s geothermal ambitions might be to blame, SPIEGEL ONLINE reported on March 19.

The town’s problems began in October 2007, when the contractor hired to put in the heating system drilled seven 140-meter-deep holes to install the pipes that would carry heated water from belowground into the town hall. Soon after, cracks began to appear in the building’s façade. The cracking has since spread to 68 buildings, including a church, two schools and more than 50 homes. Robert Breder, the structural engineer investigating the problem, told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the contractors hit an artesian aquifer while they were drilling. He speculates that some of the water escaped, causing the ground above to drop.

Although none of Staufen’s buildings are in danger of collapsing, the town’s mayor estimates that the damage could be costly. Repairs, however, will have to wait until the town is once again on solid ground.

Cassandra Willyard


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