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Potential effects of surface coal mining on the hydrology of the Little Bear Creek area, Moorhead coal field, southeastern Montana

Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4201

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Abstract

The Little Bear Creek area of the Moorhead Coal Field, 27 miles south of Ashland, Montana, contains large reserves of Federally owned coal that have been identified for potential lease sale. A hydrologic study was conducted in the area to describe existing hydrologic system and to assess potential effects of surface mining on local water resources. Hydrologic data collected from private wells, observation wells, test holes and springs indicate that the aquifers are coal and sandstone beds in the upper part of the Tongue River Member, Fort Union Formation (Paleocene age), and sand and gravel layers of valley alluvium (Pleistocene and Holocene age). Surface water is available from ephemeral flow along stretches of the main streams, and from stock ponds throughout the area. Mining the Anderson and Dietz coal beds would destroy one stock well and several stock ponds, would possibly interfere with the flow of one spring, and would lower the potentiometric surface within the coal and sandstone aquifers. The alluvial aquifer beneath Little Bear Creek and Davidson Draw would be removed at the mine site, as would sandstone and coal aquifers above the mine floor. Although mining would alter existing hydrologic systems, alternative water supplies are available. Planned structuring of the spoils and reconstruction of the alluvial aquifers could minimize downstream water-quality degradation. (USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Potential effects of surface coal mining on the hydrology of the Little Bear Creek area, Moorhead coal field, southeastern Montana
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
85-4201
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1986
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
vi, 91 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.