Surface collapse over abandoned subsurface coal mines is a problem in many parts of the world. High-resolution P-wave reflection seismology was successfully used to evaluate the risk of an active sinkhole to a main north-south railroad line in an undermined area of southeastern Kansas, USA. Water-filled cavities responsible for sinkholes in this area are in a 0.6 m thick coal seam, 7 m deep. Dominant reflection frequencies in excess of 200 Hz enabled reflections from the coal seam to be discerned from the direct wave, refractions, air wave, and ground roll on unprocessed field files. Repetitive void sequences within competent coal on three seismic profiles are consistent with the "room and pillar" mining technique practiced in this area near the turn of the century. The seismic survey showed that the apparent active sinkhole was not the result of reactivated subsidence but probably erosion. ?? 1991.