Campbell County, along the east margin of the Powder River Basin in northeastern Wyoming, contains more coal than any other county in the United States. The principal deposit is the Wyodak-Anderson coal bed. The bed is 50-100 feet (15-30 meters) thick over large areas, lies less than 200 feet (60 meters) deep in a north-south trending strip nearly 100 miles (161 kilometers) long and 2-3 miles (3-5 kilometers) wide, and contains an estimated 15 billion tons (13.6 billion metric tons) of sub-bituminous, low-sulfur coal that is presently considered to be accessible to surface mining. Extensive mining of this deposit has the potential for causing a variety of environmental impacts and has been a matter of much public concern and debate in recent years.
An integrated program of geologic, hydrologic, geochemical, and related studies by the U.S. Geological Survey in central Campbell County provides basic information about the land and its resources, including (1) characteristics of the landscape, (2) properties of rocks and surface materials, (3) depth and thickness of coal, (4) streamflow, (5) depth to ground water, (6) quality of ground water, (7) sediment yield, (8) concentrations of trace elements in soils, rocks, coal, vegetation, and water, and (9) current land use. The data are used to analyze and predict some of the potential environmental effects of surface mining, such as the extent of land disturbance, nature and degree of landscape modification, and disruption of surface-water and ground-water systems. Advance knowledge and understanding of these and other problems are useful in the planning and regulation of future leasing, mining, reclamation, and related activities.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Land and natural resource information and some potential environmental effects of surface mining of coal in the Gillette area, Wyoming
U.S. Dept. of Interior, Geological Survey : distributed by Branch of Distribution, U.S. Geological Survey,