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Field and modeling study for stream mitigation on surface mine sites in West Virginia

Mining Engineering , 2014, Vol. 66, No. 5, pp. 48-53

Sears, A.E.; Bise, C.J.; Quaranta, J.D.; Hopkinson, L.C.


The intent of geomorphic landform design is to mimic the function of the natural landscape. In a surface mine reclamation application, geomorphic landform design has the potential to mitigate stream loss. This research quantified features of reference landforms and performed computer modeling of a conceptual valley-fill design using geomorphic landform principles. A design was created using published design parameters with a software design tool (Carlson Natural Regrade with GeoFluv). Three additional designs, incorporating field-obtained regional geomorphic landform parameters, were completed and resulted in a geomorphic landform design specific to southern West Virginia. This work illustrates the importance of field determination of the ridge to head-of-channel input and drainage density parameters. Values of ridge to head-of-channel distance measured in this study were consistently an order of magnitude greater than software recommended values (SRV); SRV = 24 m (80 ft) versus field = 220 m (720 ft). Similarly, for the drainage density parameter, the software recommended range is 6 to 9 km-1 (80-120 ft/ac). The field measurements for central Appalachia quantified the drainage density to range from 5 to 5.3 km-1 (67-70 ft/ac). This affects Appalachian valley-fill stream construction by making the stream lengths shorter and the land slopes steeper with straighter headwater channels compared with areas in the southwestern United States. While the application of geomorphic landform design to surface mine sites presents challenges, this work provides support for future applications.