Influence of Topography on the Effects of Longwall Mining on Shallow Aquifers in the Appalachian Coal Field

Johnson, K. L.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
Networks of monitoring wells were established prior to mining at four longwall mine sites in the Appalachians to monitor the effect of mining on water levels, water quality and well yield. Two of the sites were located in stream valleys and the other two sites were located on hilltops. The depth to the mined seam ranged from 500-850 feet with the deeper cover being associated with the hilltop sites. Maximum declines in groundwater levels during and after mining were an order of magnitude less in the stream valley aquifers than in the hilltop aquifers. However, water levels in hilltop wells located outside the area immediately above the panel were unaffected. Water quality changes in wells as a result of longwall mining were negligible at all four sites. Increases in aquifer transmissivity and well yield were much more pronounced in the stream valley aquifers than in the hilltop aquifers. The significantly larger recharge area for the stream valley aquifers than that for the hilltop aquifers may partially account for the differing responses of these two classes of aquifers to longwall mining. These observations appear to be consistent with the stress-relief fracture model for Appalachian Plateau groundwater hydrology proposed by Wyrick and Borchers in 1981.
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