Cartographic Heritage into the Digital

Georeferencing and Cartoheritage on the Web

6111.3 - Georeferencing historical mine plans for the Witwatersrand mining basin, South Africa

Thursday, July 6
9:10 AM - 9:30 AM
Location: Hoover

From 1996 until 2005, there was a marked increase in water ingress into underground mine voids of the Central Basin of the Witwatersrand gold mining area. After more than a century of mining in the basin, several mines in the area closed down and were subsequently flooded. After pumping stopped, the underground water levels raised drastically. Where the water is coming from and where it is going to remains unsure, but the general perception is that surface water may filter through old mine shafts, winches and haulage ways.

The Council for Geoscience (formerly known as the Geological Survey of South Africa) seeks to arrive at solutions to control the ingress of surface water into mine voids and to manage decant of highly polluted water to surface. The comprehensive Mine Water Management Plan (MWMP) included an investigation into all possible water ingress sources. Since there is evidence that groundwater may flow into the mines via the vast network of old mine shafts in the mining belt, historical mine plans surveyed between 1895 and 1951 were obtained and scanned. Detailed information on the status of mine activities as early as 1898 – which include features that are not visible today owing to urbanization – served as baseline data for the project.

As a first principle, each mine plan had to be georeferenced using the original coordinate system of the map. When gold was discovered in the Witwatersrand in 1886, a reference system was needed to avoid potential boundary disputes. A unique local system known as the Witwatersrand Goldfields System was developed by Edward Melville in 1890. This referenced system had no relationship with the National grid at that time and all mine plans were compiled using the Goldfields System. To georeference these historical maps, transformation from the Goldfields System to the South African National Gauss Conform System was required.

This paper describes the processes followed and the methods used in the georeferencing of these mine plans, the estimated expected accuracy of a point transformed from the Goldfields System to the Gauss Conform System and include a brief discussion on some key project outcomes to illustrate the usefulness of using historical maps in modern day projects.

Keywords: Witwatersrand, Ingress, Decant, Goldfields, Gauss conform

Hermina M. Roos

GIS Specialist
Council for Geoscience

Working as a GIS Specialist at the Council for Geoscience, South Africa.
Registered with the South Africa Geomatics Council as a Professional GISc Practitioner
Serves on the South Africa National Committee for the International Cartographic Association, the National Committee of Geo-Information Society of South Africa (GISSA) and the South African Committee for Spatial Information (CSI)
Recent International projects:
Hydrogeological Map and Atlas for the Government of Malawi. The project form part of the National Water Development Programme in Malawi and The Seismotectonic Map of Africa – an Offical project of the Organization of the African Geological Surveys (OAGS)


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Angeliki Tsorlini

ETH Zurich, Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation

Angeliki Tsorlini is a postdoctoral researcher in Cartography at the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, since 2012. She graduated in Rural and Surveying Engineering at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), Greece in 2004. In 2005, she received a M.Sc. degree in Cartographic Production and Geographic Analysis at the same University and in 2011, the Doctor of Engineering degree in Digital Cartography. She has worked on different projects and her research interest is focused mainly on the digital analysis of historical maps and the information which can be extracted from them.


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6111.3 - Georeferencing historical mine plans for the Witwatersrand mining basin, South Africa

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