The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, has collected hydrologic data from areas in Tioga, Clearfield, and Fayette Counties to determine the effects of surface coal mining on sediment yields. The data were collected from June 1978 through September 1983. Rainfall, streamflow and suspended-sediment data were collected with automatic recording and sampling equipment. Data were collected in Tioga County from an agricultural area that was unaffected by mining and from a forested area prior to surface mining. Data were collected from two areas affected by active surface mining in Tioga County and from an area in Clearfield County being mined by the contour-surface method. Data also were collected from three areas, Tioga, Clearfield, and Fayette Counties, during and after reclamation. The efficiencies of sediment-control pounds in Clearfield and Fayette Counties also were determined. The average annual sediment yield from the agricultural area in Tioga County, which was 35 percent forested, was 0.48 ton per acre per year, and the yield from the forested area prior to mining was 0.0036 ton per acre per year. The average annual sediment yields from the areas affected by active surface mining were 22 tons per acre from the improved haul road and 148 tons per acre from the unimproved haul road.
The average annual sediment yield from the site in Clearfield County that had been prepared for mining was 6.3 tons per acre. The average annual sediment yield from the same site while it was being mined by the contour method was 5.5 tons per acre per year. The sediment-control pond reduced the average annual sediment yield to 0.50 ton per acre while the site was prepared for mining and to 0.14 ton per acre while the site was being mined. Because the active surface mining reduced the effective drainage area to the pond, the sediment yield decreased from 0.50 to 0.14 ton per acre.
Average annual suspended-sediment yields from the reclaimed site in Tioga County were 1.0 ton per acre during the first year, when vegetation was becoming established, and 0.037 ton per acre during the second year, when vegetation was well established. The average annual sediment yield below a 21.2-acre, reclaimed, surface mine in Clearfield County that had been mined by the contour method was 15 tons per acre during the first year when vegetation was becoming established. However, the average annual sediment yield below a sediment-control pond at this reclaimed site in Clearfield County was 0.30 ton per acre.
Data collected from a 4.2-acre reclaimed area that had been surface mined by the block-cut method in Fayette County showed that annual sediment yields from the area were 77 tons per acre in 1981 (no vegetation), 32 tons per acre in 1982 (sparse vegetation), and 1.0 ton per acre in 1983 (well-esatablished vegetation). The average annual yield below a sediment-control pond at the mine site in Fayette County was 0.19 ton per acre during the 27 months of data collection.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Suspended-sediment yields from an unmined area and from mined areas before and after reclamation in Pennsylvania, June 1978-September 1983