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Hydrology and potential effects of mining in the Quitchupah and Pines coal-lease tracts, central Utah

Water-Resources Investigations Report 90-4084

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
By:
ORCID iD and

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Abstract

Bydrologic data were collected for the proposed Quitchupah and Pines coal-lease tracts in Sevier and Bnery Counties, Utah, in order to describe the hydrology and potential effects of mining on the hydrologic system. The Quitchupah and Pines coal-lease tracts are near the Southern Utah Fuel Company coal mine in an area of the central Wasatch Plateau that is characterized by a relatively flat plateau deeply dissected by steep-sided canyons.

Surface water in the Quitchupah and Pines study area drains to two perennial streams, Muddy Creek to the north and Quitchupah Creek to the south. Peak streamflow is usually in May and June in response to snowmelt runoff; however, thunderstorms can cause short-term high flows in late summer and fall. The specific conductance of surface water in and near the study area measured during the 1987 water year ranged from 440 (iS/cm to 860 (iS/cm. Suspended-sediment concentrations ranged from 17 to 10,900 mg/L in the Quitchupah Creek drainage and 34 to 312 mg/L in the Muddy Creek drainage.

Stable-isotope studies indicate that recharge to aquifers in the study area is by seepage of snowmelt into rock outcrops. Discharge from the aquifers is at springs, seeps, mines, and zones of seepage in streambeds. The chemical quality of ground water is related to the mineralogy of the formations with which the water has contact. Water from the upper part of the Cast legate Sandstone has the smallest concentration of dissolved solids, 61 mg/L, and water from the North Horn Formation has the largest concentration, 1,080 mg/L.

Observed effects of underground coal mining at the nearby active mine are considered indicative of the changes that can be expected in the Quitchupah and Pines coal-lease tracts. Subsidence above the mined area could cause dewatering of the Blackhawk Formation and the Star Point Sandstone, changes in the natural drainage patterns, and alteration of both surface- and ground-water quality. Additional studies are needed to gain a better understanding of the hydrologic effects of underground mining in the Quitchupah and Pines coal-lease tracts.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrology and potential effects of mining in the Quitchupah and Pines coal-lease tracts, central Utah
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
90-4084
Year Published:
1991
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Salt Lake City, Utah
Description:
Report: vii, 63 p.; Plate: 26.82 x 24.37 inches