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9 December 2016

The Council for Geoscience (CGS) is the custodian of South Africa's geoscience data. According to the Geoscience Act (Act 100 of 1993), the CGS is mandated to collect and curate all geoscience data and knowledge in the South African National Geoscience Repository, promote research and the extension of knowledge in the field of geoscience and render specialized geoscientific services to enable informed and scientifically sound decisions on the use of the earth’s surface and resources within the territory of South Africa.

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by: P.J.A. Bosch, N. Moabi and S. Makubalo

1: Introduction

A report on a possible hazardous underground fire at Sehlakwane (see attachment) was received by the Council for Geoscience on 28 July 2016.

On receiving the details of the report, P. Bosch, N. Moabi and S. Makubalo decided to investigate the occurrence. The immediate thoughts on the details provided were that the area was or is underlain by naturally occurring peat and that it is possible that this peat has dried out due to the prolonged heat and drought. It is therefore possible that the peat may have caught fire. The extension of this possible peatland is not known and it might be that it extends into occupied property within the area. It was decided to investigate the area as soon as possible to determine whether in fact it is peat burning and if it is of concern that it might extend to occupied property. The following preliminary actions were proposed: A trench or trenches should be excavated in the vicinity (with safety as a concern) of the area that is burning to establish the nature of the material that is burning.

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