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Predicting ground-water movement in large mine spoil areas in the Appalachian Plateau

International Journal of Coal Geology

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DOI: 10.1016/S0166-5162(99)00012-9

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Abstract

Spoil created by surface mining can accumulate large quantities of ground-water, which can create geotechnical or regulatory problems, as well as flood active mine pits. A current study at a large (4.1 km2), thick, (up to 90 m) spoil body in eastern Kentucky reveals important factors that control the storage and movement of water. Ground-water recharge occurs along the periphery of the spoil body where surface-water drainage is blocked, as well as from infiltration along the spoil-bedrock contact, recharge from adjacent bedrock, and to a minor extent, through macropores at the spoil's surface. Based on an average saturated thickness of 6.4 m for all spoil wells, and assuming an estimated porosity of 20%, approximately 5.2 x 106 m3 of water is stored within the existing 4.1 km2 of reclaimed spoil. A conceptual model of ground-water flow, based on data from monitoring wells, dye-tracing data, discharge from springs and ponds, hydraulic gradients, chemical data, field reconnaissance, and aerial photographs indicate that three distinct but interconnected saturated zones have been established: one in the spoil's interior, and others in the valley fills that surround the main spoil body at lower elevations. Ground-water movement is sluggish in the spoil's interior, but moves quickly through the valley fills. The conceptual model shows that a prediction of ground-water occurrence, movement, and quality can be made for active or abandoned spoil areas if all or some of the following data are available: structural contour of the base of the lowest coal seam being mined, pre-mining topography, documentation of mining methods employed throughout the mine, overburden characteristics, and aerial photographs of mine progression.Spoil created by surface mining can accumulate large quantities of ground-water, which can create geotechnical or regulatory problems, as well as flood active mine pits. A current study at a large (4.1 km2), thick, (up to 90 m) spoil body in eastern Kentucky reveals important factors that control the storage and movement of water. Ground-water recharge occurs along the periphery of the spoil body where surface-water drainage is blocked, as well as from infiltration along the spoil-bedrock contact, recharge from adjacent bedrock, and to a minor extent, through macropores at the spoil's surface. Based on an average saturated thickness of 6.4 m for all spoil wells, and assuming an estimated porosity of 20%, approximately 5.2 ?? 106 m3 of water is stored within the existing 4.1 km2 of reclaimed spoil. A conceptual model of ground-water flow, based on data from monitoring wells, dye-tracing data, discharge from springs and ponds, hydraulic gradients, chemical data, field reconnaissance, and aerial photographs indicate that three distinct but interconnected saturated zones have been established: one in the spoil's interior, and others in the valley fills that surround the main spoil body at lower elevations. Ground-water movement is sluggish in the spoil's interior, but moves quickly through the valley fills. The conceptual model shows that a prediction of ground-water occurrence, movement, and quality can be made for active or abandoned spoil areas if all or some of the following data are available: structural contour of the base of the lowest coal seam being mined, pre-mining topography, documentation of mining methods employed throughout the mine, overburden characteristics, and aerial photographs of mine progression.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Predicting ground-water movement in large mine spoil areas in the Appalachian Plateau
Series title:
International Journal of Coal Geology
DOI:
10.1016/S0166-5162(99)00012-9
Volume
41
Issue:
1-2
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.
Publisher location:
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
International Journal of Coal Geology
First page:
73
Last page:
106
Number of Pages:
34