Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design



Committee Chair

John C. Sencindiver.


Mountaintop surface mining for coal has been practiced in West Virginia for over three decades, but its environmental impacts have become increasingly scrutinized in recent years. Therefore, this study evaluated soil development on different aged mined lands. Four different ages (2, 7, 11, and 23 years) of minesoils and two different slope classes, nearly level to gently sloping and steep to very steep, along with three contiguous native soils on a reclaimed mountaintop removal mine in Logan County, West Virginia were described and sampled. Standard analyses of physical and chemical properties were conducted in order to classify these soils. Some of the data also were used to test a productivity index for Appalachian minesoils. Physical analyses of these soils revealed the minesoils are developing with age, indicated by increasing A horizon thickness, solum thickness, and increased aggregate stability with time. Chemical analyses showed higher N with minesoil age. Minesoils had higher bases, pH, and base saturation than native soils, but native soils had higher carbon, nitrogen, aluminum, and manganese. Current accepted soil classification names give little information on the unique properties of these minesoils, but three proposed modifications to Soil Taxonomy reveal more useful knowledge. The calculated productivity index showed the minesoils as a group to be less productive than native soils, but the older minesoils were similar to the native soils.