The Eastern Kentucky Coal Field is located in the Appalachian Basin of the United States and occupies an area of approximately 15,000 square kilometers. The coal beds range from a few centimeters to several meters in thickness and consist of high-grade bituminous coal. Currently the amount of coal mined by surface methods exceeds underground extraction; however, there is a steady and gradual shift toward underground mining. In the future, as near-surface resources are depleted, this trend toward increased underground mining will continue. Knowledge about deeper coals is essential for future economic development of resources. Preliminary investigations indicate that coal-bearing strata with deep-mining potential exist in several parts of eastern Kentucky, especially along the Eastern Kentucky Syncline. Eastern Kentucky coals are Westphalian A through D; however, current production is from major beds of Westphalian A and B. Because coals that occur above drainage are more easily accessible and are generally of better quality, most of the current mining takes place in formations that are at or near the surface. In the future, however, due to environmental regulations and increased demands, it will be necessary to attempt to utilize deeper coals about which little is known. Future development of deep resources will require data from boreholes and high-resolution geophysical-logging techniques. There is also potential for coal-bed methane from the deeper coals which could be an important resource in the Appalachian Coal Basin where a natural gas distribution system already exists.
Additional publication details
Deep-coal potential in the Appalachian Coal Basin, USA: The Kentucky model