Ground water from aquifers associated with coal beds in the Allegheny and Monongahela Formations in southeastern Ohio is predominantly a calcium magnesium bicarbonate type. Sodium bicarbonate type water is less common. Isolated areas of sodium chloride and calcium sulfate types also are present. The water is predominantly very hard, and has a median hardness concentration of 258 milligrams per liter as calcium carbonate and a median dissolved-solids concentration of 436 milligrams per liter. Few wells contain water with dissolved-solids concentrations in excess of 1,000 milligrams per liter.
Bicarbonate concentration in ground water was found to be significantly different among coals, whereas concentrations of bicarbonate, hardness, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, manganese, and strontium were significantly different between ground water in the Allegheny and Monongahela Formations. Many constituents are significantly correlated, but few correlation coefficients are high.
The presence of sulfate or iron is attributed to the kinetic mechanism operating during the oxidation of pyrite. The position along the sulfide or ferrous-iron oxidation pathways controls the reaction products of pyrite found in solution, and the formation of either the sulfate of iron constituents. The availability and rate of diffusion of oxygen in the formations exerts control on the water quality.
Discriminant-function analysis correctly classifies 89 percent of the observations into the Allegheny or Monongahela Formations. As a verifications, 39 of 41 observations from another study were correctly classified by formation.
The differences in water chemistry between the Allegheny and the Monongahela Formations are gradational and are attributed the oxidation of iron sulfide. The diffusion and availability of oxygen, which controls the chemical reaction, is regulated by the porosity and permeability of the rock with respect to oxygen and the presence or absence of carbonates, which controls the pH.