The hydrologic impacts of possible coal mining in the 900-square-mile Carboniferous Narragansett Basin in southeastern New England are described. Geophysical tests and hydrologic observations were made in thirteen 3-inch-diameter test holes which were 330 to 1,500 feet deep. Fractures and lithology, including graphite and coal, were identified and located from interpretation of geophysical logs. Ground-water levels measured in 1976-77 were less than 15 feet below land surface at all test sites. Specific capacities of the test holes to yield water ranged from 0.01 to 5.7 gallons per minute per foot of drawdown after short (2-5-hour) pumping periods. In a test hole in Halifax, Massachusetts, water levels showing drawdown caused by pumping nearby domestic-supply wells indicate that mine dewatering would reduce yields of private wells tapping bedrock. In test holes near Narragansett Bay, ground water was brackish, and water levels fluctuated with about one-fifth the magnitude of the tide in the bay. These conditions suggest that there is potential for a high rate of mine seepage from the bay. As a result of mining, the iron disulfide minerals, pyrite and marcasite, react with air and water to produce acid water containing iron. However, acid mine water is not expected to be as serious a problem in the Narragansett Basin as it is in the Appalachian coal fields. No marcasite and only small amounts of coarsely crystalline pyrite have been observed in the metamorphosed sediments of the basin.
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USGS Numbered Series
Geohydrologic impacts of coal development in the Narragansett Basin, Massachusetts and Rhode Island