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Investigation of possible effects of surface coal mining on hydrology and landscape stability in part of the Powder River structural basin, northeastern Wyoming

Water-Resources Investigations Report 86-4329

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Abstract

The effects of surface coal mining on the surface- and groundwater systems in a 5,400 sq mi area in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming, that includes 20 major coal mines were evaluated using three approaches: A surface water model, a landscape-stability analysis, and a groundwater model. A surface water model was developed for the Belle Fourche River basin. The Hydrological Simulation Program-Fortran model was used to simulate changes in streamflow and changes in dissolved-solids and sulfate concentrations. Simulated streamflows resulting from less than average rainfall were small, changes in flow from premining to during-mining and postmining conditions were less than 2.5%, and changes in mean dissolved-solids and sulfate concentrations ranged from 1 to 7%. A landscape-stability analysis resulted in regression relations to aid in the reconstruction of reclaimed drainage networks. Hypsometric analyses indicate the larger basins are relatively stable, and statistical data from these basins may be used to design the placement of material within a mined basin to approximate natural, stable landscapes in the area. The attempt to define and simulate the groundwater system in the area using a groundwater-flow model was unsuccessful. The steady-state groundwater-flow model could not be calibrated. The modeling effort failed principally because of insufficient quantity and quality of data to define the spatial distribution of aquifer properties; the hydraulic-head distribution within and between aquifers; and the rates of groundwater recharge and discharge, especially for steady-state conditions. (USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Investigation of possible effects of surface coal mining on hydrology and landscape stability in part of the Powder River structural basin, northeastern Wyoming
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
86-4329
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1986
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
vi, 101 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.