The Pond Creek seam is one of the leading producers of coal in the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field. The geologic factors that affect mining were investigated in several underground mines and categorized in terms of coal thickness, coal quality, and roof control. The limits of mining and thick coal are defined by splitting along the margin of the coal body. Within the coal body, local thickness variation occurs because of (1) leader coal benches filling narrow, elongated depressions, (2) rider coal benches coming near to or merging with the main bench, (3) overthrust coal benches being included along paleochannel margins, (4) cutouts occuring beneath paleochannels, and (5) very hard and unusual rock partings occuring along narrow, elongated trends. In the study area, the coal is mostly mined as a compliance product: sulfur contents are less than 1% and ash yields are less than 10%. Local increases in sulfur occur beneath sandstones, and are inferred to represent post-depositional migration of fluids through porous sands into the coal. Run-of-mine quality is also affected by several mine-roof conditions and trends of densely concentrated rock partings, which lead to increased in- and out-of-seam dilution and overall ash content of the mined coal. Roof control is largely a function of a heterolithic facies mosaic of coastal-estuarine origin, regional fracture trends, and unloading stress related to varying mine depth beneath the surface. Lateral variability of roof facies is the rule in most mines. The largest falls occur beneath modern valleys and parallel fractures, along paleochannel margins, within tidally affected 'stackrock,' and beneath rider coals. Shale spalling, kettlebottoms, and falls within other more isolated facies also occur. Many of the lithofacies, and falls related to bedding weaknesses within or between lithofacies, occur along northeast-southwest trends, which can be projected in advance of mining. Fracture-related falls occur independently of lithofacies trends along northwest-southeast trends, especially beneath modern valleys where overburden thickness decreases sharply. Differentiating roof falls related to these trends can aid in predicting roof quality in advance of mining.The Pond Creek-Lower Elkhorn seam has been an important exploration target because it typically has very low sulfur contents and ash yields. Geologic research in several large Pond Creek mines suggested variability in roof quality and coal thickness. Due to mine access, geologic problems encountered during mining are documented and described.
Additional Publication Details
Mining geology of the Pond Creek seam, Pikeville Formation, Middle Pennsylvanian, in part of the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field, USA