Geologic setting and water quality of selected basins in the active coal-mining areas of Ohio, 1989-91, with a summary of water quality for 1985-91

Water-Resources Investigations Report 93-4094




This report presents streamwater- and ground-water-quality data collected to characterize the baseline water quality for 21 drainage basins in the coal-mining region of eastern Ohio. The study area is mostly within the unglaciated part of eastern Ohio along the western edge of the Appalachian Plateaus Physiographic Province. The data collected from 1989-91 and presented in this report represent the third and final phase of a 7-year study to assess baseline water quality in Ohio's coal region during 1985-1991. During 1989-91, 246 samples from 41 streamwater sites were collected periodically from a long-term site network. Ranges and medians of measurements made at the long-term streamwater sites were following: specific conductance, 270 to 5,170 and 792 microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius; pH, 2.7 to 9.1 and 7.8; alkalinity, 1 to 391 and 116 mg/L (milligrams per liter). Ranges and medians of laboratory analyses of the same samples were the following: dissolved sulfate, 13 to 2,100 and 200 mg/L; dissolved aluminum, <10 to 17,000 and 300 ? /L (micrograms per liter); dissolved iron, <10 to 53,000 and 60 ? /L; and dissolved manganese, <10 to 17,000 and 295 ? /L. The ranges for concentrations of total recoverable aluminum, iron, and manganese were similar to the ranges of concentrations found for dissolved constituents. Medians of total recoverable aluminum and iron were about 10 times greater than the medians of dissolved aluminum and iron. During 1989-91, once-only sample collections were done at 45 streamwater sites in nine basins chosen for synoptic sampling. At several sites in the Middle Hocking River basin and Leading Creek basin, water had low pH and high concentrations of dissolved aluminum, iron and manganese. These water-quality characteristics are commonly associated with ace mine drainage. Throughout the entire 7-year study (1985-91), medians for most constituents at the long-term streamwater-sampling sites were fairly consistent, despite the geographic diversity of the study area. Waters from several long-term sites, including several sites in Moxahala Creek and Middle Hocking River basins, had low pH and high concentrations of several constituents, including dissolved sulfate, iron, aluminum, and manganese; this combinations characteristics is indicitive of acid drainage from surface-mining operations. At many of the streamwater sites where concentration of these constituents were high, pH values in the neutral or alkaline range were indicative of stream buffering by carbonate rock or restoration of mined lands in the drainage system. The basins with sites in this category include Yellow and Cross Creeks and Wheeling Creek basins. Water quality at other sites showed little or no effects from surface mining. Ground-water samples collected during the last phase of the study (1989-91) were mostly from unconsolidated aquifers. The waters were generally hard to very hard and calcium bicarbonate in type. During the entire 7-year study period, medians of pH in ground-water samples varied little, and most values were in the alkaline range. Except for a few sites where concentrations of dissolved sulfate exceeded 250 mg/L and concentrations of total recoverable and dissolved iron and manganese exceeded 1,000 ? /L, the quality of ground water at the wells sampled in the study area showed little effect from coal mining.

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USGS Numbered Series
Geologic setting and water quality of selected basins in the active coal-mining areas of Ohio, 1989-91, with a summary of water quality for 1985-91
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. G.P.O. ; U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
ix, 133 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.