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Grave subsidence - Why do graves sink?

What is Grave subsidence?

Grave subsidence refers to the appearance of graves "sinking". This is an entirely natural process caused by loosened soil settling into place.

 

Topping up subsided graves

 

The grounds men at AMG conduct regular checks of recently backfilled graves, as well as monitoring graves after periods of rainfall. After identifying which graves need top-ups, staff will schedule time to carry out these works.

 

What causes grave subsidence?

 

When graves are initially dug, the dirt removed is lumpy and irregular, particularly when it has high clay content. In a cemetery setting we do not compact the backfill material to exclude air spaces. Over time, the soil on a backfilled grave will appear to ‘sink’, although this is just the process of the air escaping and loosened dirt settling into place.

The amount and rate of sinkage will depend on a range of factors, such as:

 Soil type

 Grave location

 Amount of rainfall

 Groundwater levels

Heavy and prolonged rainfall in particular will contribute to grave subsidence. What to do if you notice grave subsidence? We recognize that seeing the surface of a grave sinking can cause distress to the bereaved, it is unfortunately a ‘natural’ phenomenon that affects all cemeteries.  Although often this can occur quickly after natural occurrences, we appreciate community notification of this matter. To assist in the process, please take note of the grave’s location and other details such as the name on the memorial or area of the cemetery so that we can locate the grave on our system. After identifying the grave, we will log a maintenance request and AMG will schedule it in to a series of top-ups. Weather permitting, most top-ups are completed within five (5) business days under normal circumstances, unless urgent attention is needed.

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