The Effects of Longwall Coal Mining on the Hydrogeology of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Witkowski, Megan N
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2011
The purpose of this study is to investigate the susceptibility characteristics of domestic and agricultural water supplies that may be vulnerable to diminution or total loss of supply when active longwall mining is in the vicinity of the potable aquifer systems of southwestern Pennsylvania. The study focuses on water supplies in Greene and Washington Counties with reported losses or reductions in supply that were attributed to the seven active longwall mines in operation between 2003 and 2008. The undermined water supplies represent a variety of hydrogeological settings and mining conditions prevalent in the southwestern Pennsylvania longwall coalfield. The susceptibility characteristics investigated include hydrogeological setting, proximal location to mining, and climatic conditions at the time of impact. The investigation considers the relationship between geological and mining characteristics. Geological characteristics include overburden composition and geomorphology of the surface; mining characteristics include mining method, depth, and extraction thickness. It was determined from the study that the average overburden thickness at each mine site is indicative of hydrological changes to potable aquifer systems, with the overall impact frequency at each site decreasing as depth to mining increases. However, depth to mining was not the governing factor when hydrological responses were determined on a case-by-case basis. To fully analyze and hopefully predict potential impacts by longwall mine subsidence, it is necessary to consider additional factors including topography, distance to mining, mining method, and climatic conditions at time of undermining. The investigation serves the purpose of enhancing our understanding of hydrogeological responses to longwall mining and will aid in predicting potential impacts to southwestern Pennsylvania?s wells and springs in proximity to future mining.
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