Effects of Coal Mine Subsidence on Shallow Ridge-Top Aquifers in Northern West Virginia

Werner, Eberhard
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
Existing reports on the effects of mine subsidence on water wells and springs appear to be inconsistent. Some report quick and complete recoveries to pre-mining conditions while others indicate long-term or permanent effects. It is clear that topographic and geological factors as well as precise position with regard to the mine are important in determining probable effects of subsidence on aquifers. Ridgetop aquifers which are well above regional base-level are much more susceptible to disturbance by mining activities than those located topographically lower. Effects seen are attributed largely to increased permeability, both horizontal and vertical. of the aquifer rocks. The deeper aquifers usually show short term losses or water-table declines. but the effects on the ridge-top aquifers persist for longer periods or may be permanent. Subsidence enhances permeability. so that infiltrating water moves much faster to lower levels. causing pond and stream losses and declining levels in wells as well as declining flows of springs of the higher aquifers, while increasing levels and flows of the lower aquifers. Additional effects are shifts of spring locations caused by minor tilts due to differential subsidence and redirection of shallow flows by changes of horizontal fracture permeability. These effects are seen as mining of a panel progresses beneath the site. and are often repeated when adjacent panel mining fronts pass the site. Analysis of water well level and spring flow records indicates that the effects are greatest at the edges of longwall panels in the tensional regime. These effects are amplified for locations close to topographically steep terrain and in close proximity to fracture traces mapped from medium-to small-scale aerial images.
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