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Effects of surface coal mining and reclamation on the geohydrology of six small watersheds in West-Central Indiana

Water Supply Paper 2368-B

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Abstract

Six small watersheds in west-central Indiana were selected for study of the hydrologic effects of surface coal mining and reclamation. The watersheds include mined and reclaimed, mined and unreclaimed, and unmined agricultural land uses and are each less than 3 square miles in area. Surface-water, ground-water, and meteorologic data for the 1981 and 1982 water years were used to describe and compare hydrologic systems of the six watersheds and to identify hydrologic effects of mining and reclamation. Discharge at the unreclaimed watersheds was continuous during the study period, whereas discharge at the other watersheds was intermittent and more variable. Peak discharges were greater at the agricultural watersheds than at the unreclaimed watersheds, primarily because of large final-cut lakes in the unreclaimed watersheds. Annual runoff was greatest at the unreclaimed watersheds, intermediate at the agricultural watersheds, and least at the reclaimed watersheds. Hydrologic effects of mining were identified by comparing the hydrologic systems at mined and unreclaimed watersheds with those at unmined agricultural watersheds. These comparisons indicate that surface coal mining without reclamation can increase base flow, annual runoff, and ground-water recharge to the bedrock; reduce peak flow rates and variation in flow; lower the water table in upland areas; change the relation between surface- and ground-water divides; and create numerous, local flow systems in the shallow ground water. Hydrologic effects of reclamation were identified by comparing the hydrologic systems at mined and reclaimed watersheds with those at mined and unreclaimed watersheds. Reclamation can decrease base flow, annual runoff, and recharge to the bedrock; increase peak flow rates, variation in flow, and the response to thunderstorms; reestablish the premining relation between surface- and ground-water divides; and create fewer local flow systems in the shallow ground water. Hydrologic effects of mining and reclamation were identified by comparing the hydrologic systems at mined and reclaimed watersheds with those at unmined agricultural watersheds. The presence or absence of a large final-cut lake in the reclaimed watershed greatly influences the hydrologic systems and the effects of mining and reclamation. Surface coal mining and reclamation can decrease base flow, annual runoff, and peak flow rates; increase the variability of flow and recharge to the bedrock; reestablish the premining relation between surface- and ground-water divides; and lower the water table in upland areas.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Effects of surface coal mining and reclamation on the geohydrology of six small watersheds in West-Central Indiana
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
Series number:
2368
Chapter:
B
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1990
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
71 p. ;2 v. :ill. ;28 cm.
Number of Pages:
71