Assistance in learning the lay of the land

Tarah Kesterson


Public Relations Manager
Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy
Phone: 276-523-8146



What resources does the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy have for leaders in small towns?
We have a ton have resources available through our website – it’s You’ll look under mapping resources, and there you can find abandoned mine land sites that maybe you can develop new projects on. We also have geologic hazards mapped throughout the state. That includes karst, or a lot of people call them sinkholes; you can find locations where that might occur in some of the limestone areas of Virginia. We also have a landslide map where some of the soil, or hills, aren’t as stable. You can look and see if any of that is around you. Currently, our geologists are working on a fault-line map so hopefully we will be able to identify where some of these faults are and if there is a concern for leaders planning a new building or need to put more reinforcement in their structures as they build them if it is near a fault line.

By sinkholes do you mean the scary kind that have been in the news?
It’s always good to know what’s around you. And we have, of course, the karst map so you can see where some of the limestone may form a sinkhole. Or where there maybe a little bit of a hole there. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be swallowed up tomorrow, but it’s good to know what’s around you and what’s close to you. And it’s also good to know where mines are in Virginia, and we have all of those mapped on our website as well as gas wells, and you can look at mines that were abandoned from the 1800s when mining began in Virginia, all the way to 1977 when environmental regulations were put into place. You can also find active mines as well – mineral and coal.

Is it important to know about them just because of the potential danger?
Well, we already have all of those mapped, identified, ranked, as far as if they’re a hazard or not … if they’re a personal safety hazard, if they’re an environmental hazard … so if we don’t have that [information listed] they can go ahead and report it to us and we’ll evaluate that site. If it does look like it’s going to be a hazard, we get federal funding to take care of those projects, so we’ll come in and fix whatever problems. But also, there is a great opportunity on some of these lands to develop. So hopefully they’ll look at the property and see maybe a new vision for it, or renew it, or recycle it.

What do you wish that mayors and town managers knew about DMME?
I wish that they knew we are a wealth of information and we have so much information for them in planning and economic development that is just on the website or [can be had] by calling one of us and talking to us. We’d be happy to provide any information about property they’re looking at. Or if they are looking for a certain property we have a lot of reclaimed areas where mines once were that are set up to take on industrial parks, or new farmlands, or some kind of economic development project. We have all that information; all they have to do is call.