Influence of Pit Floor Drains on Ground-Water Chemistry and Hydrology of a Surface Mine, Pennsylvania, USA
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 2000
A hydrologically isolated surface coal mine was reclaimed using acid material handling, alkaline addition and ground-water management techniques. Eight pit floor drains were installed during reclamation to intercept ground-water flow in the mine backfill and minimize water table buildup. All drains began flowing within six months of installation. Water quality and ground-water discharge have been monitored for four years after mine closure. A thin water table aquifer about five to seven feet thick has developed in minespoil about 20 to 40 feet thick. Ground-water flow direction is largely controlled by geologic structure and the drains. Median ground- water discharge is about 0.43 gallons per acre per minute, and varies an order of magnitude between wet and dry seasons. About 19 % of precipitation enters the aquifer as recharge. Seven of the eight drains typically discharge net alkaline water. Alkalinity is produced continuously and concentrations are highest during dry periods. Conversely, sulfate and acidity concentrations increase during wet periods as slugs of accumulated acid products are leached. Overall water quality is controlled principally by minespoil geochemistry and added alkaline material. The drains have successfully directed ground-water to a planned discharge area. Without the drains, a ground-water mound was expected to form against a buried highwall and discharge over a large area.