Interpolated grids of coal bed thickness are being considered for use in a proposed method for taxation of coal in the state of West Virginia (United States). To assess the origin and magnitude of possible inaccuracies in calculated coal tonnage, we used conditional simulation to generate equiprobable realizations of net coal thickness for two coals on a 7 1/2 min topographic quadrangle, and a third coal in a second quadrangle. Coals differed in average thickness and proportion of original coal that had been removed by erosion; all three coals crop out in the study area. Coal tonnage was calculated for each realization and for each interpolated grid for actual and artificial property parcels, and differences were summarized as graphs of percent difference between tonnage calculated from the grid and average tonnage from simulations. Coal in individual parcels was considered minable for valuation purposes if average thickness in each parcel exceeded 30 inches. Results of this study show that over 75% of the parcels are classified correctly as minable or unminable based on interpolation grids of coal bed thickness. Although between 80 and 90% of the tonnages differ by less than 20% between interpolated values and simulated values, a nonlinear conditional bias might exist in estimation of coal tonnage from interpolated thickness, such that tonnage is underestimated where coal is thin, and overestimated where coal is thick. The largest percent differences occur for parcels that are small in area, although because of the small quantities of coal in question, bias is small on an absolute scale for these parcels. For a given parcel size, maximum apparent overestimation of coal tonnage occurs in parcels with an average coal bed thickness near the minable cutoff of 30 in. Conditional bias in tonnage for parcels having a coal thickness exceeding the cutoff by 10 in. or more is constant for two of the three coals studied, and increases slightly with average thickness for the third coal. ?? 2001 International Association for Mathematical Geology.
Additional publication details
Uncertainty in coal property valuation in West Virginia: A case study