Hydrologic Variations Due to Longwall Mining

Matetic, R. J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
The impact of longwall mining on the local hydrological regime has become an important environmental focal point. Unfortunately, only a few studies have addressed the timing and range of well fluid level fluctuations and the associated ground movement. Furthermore, even fewer studies have determined the influence of longwall mining on water quality. The U.S. Bureau of Mines is providing insight into this environmental concern through a program of field case studies. One such study was conducted in Cambria County, PA where five observation water wells were drilled above two adjacent longwall panels. In this study, three wells were completed as nested piezometers and the remaining two served as producing wells. The piezometers were positioned along a line oriented subparallel to the longwall face and were located at the centerline of each panel and over the intervening chain pillars. The piezometers were designed to monitor fluid level fluctuations in both shallow and deep water-bearing zones. Slug tests were conducted before and after mining to characterize changes in hydraulic conductivity of the respective water-bearing zones. Pressure transducers and data loggers were installed to provide continuous fluid level fluctuation data as mining developed through the study area. The producing wells were drilled to provide water quality information. One well was located directly above the centerline of a panel and the other was positioned over the panel's set-up rooms. The wells were designed to simulate domestic use and were produced daily, for four hour intervals, throughout the study. Samples of the produced water were collected before and after mining progressed through the area. In addition, an array of monuments was installed near the study wells and was periodically surveyed to characterize mining-induced surface deformations. This study shows that: a) the observed changes in ground water chemistry did not affect the potability of the water; b) short-term major water level fluctuations occur at the approximate time of undermining; and c) water level recovery begins before the process of subsidence is complete.
Full Article Download:
(2367 kb)