Hydrologic data for four small basins and for numerous other sites in the Warrior coal field are used to define the potential impact of surface mining on water resources. Bear and Blue Creek basins are underlain predominantly by relatively impermeable consolidated rocks in the Pottsville Formation. Turkey and Yellow Creek basins are underlain predominantly by permeable unconsolidated rocks in the Coker Formation.
Well yields from the Pottsville Formation generally range from 0 to 5 gallons per minute and those from the Coker Formation generally range from 5 to 100 gallons per minute. With the exception of locally objectional concentrations of dissolved iron and manganese, ground water in the basins is suitable for most uses.
Streamflow distribution reflects seasonal precipitation. Storm runoff is characterized by concentrated peakflows of short duration that rapidly recede to low flow. Streams draining basins underlain mainly by the Pottsville Formation frequently go dry, whereas those draining basins underlain chiefly by the Coker Formation have well-sustained low flows.
Surface water is generally acidic and low in dissolved solids. Water in streams draining basins underlain chiefly by the Pottsville Formation is slightly more mineralized and less acidic than water in streams draining areas underlain chiefly by the Coker Formation. Climatic, physiographic, hydrologic, and land-use data are analyzed by regressions to derive relations for estimating water quality in streams draining mined and unmined areas.
The impacts of mining on the hydrologic systems are identified as increased erosion and sedimentation, baseflow augmentation, decline in groundwater levels, and degradation of water quality.
A digital model was calibrated to simulate streamflow for Bear, Blue, and Yellow Creeks under unmined conditions. The model, when calibrated and verified under mined and unmined conditions, can be coupled with developed water-quality relationships. This will permit a general examination of .surface-water characteristics (quantity and quality), and estimation of hydrologic impacts that will result from surface mining.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrology of potential mining areas in the Warrior coal field, Alabama