Date of Graduation
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Leslie C. Hopkinson
Mountaintop mining (MTM) is a widely practiced surface mining technique in Central Appalachian Conventional reclamation (Approximate Original Contour), involves the construction of valley fills of headwater systems. Recent research suggests that current MTM reclamation techniques increase stormflow response of the affected watersheds when compared to the original, undisturbed conditions. One method that has shown success in reclaiming surface mine sites in semi-arid regions of the western U.S. is geomorphic landform design. Geomorphic reclamation is based upon creating landforms that resemble the mature surrounding watersheds in both topography and hydrologic response. The objective of this research was to predict the hydrologic response of a mine site reclaimed using geomorphic methods for a location in southern West Virginia. Three alternative geomorphic reclamation designs were modeled using Aquaveo's Watershed Modeling System: i) a geomorphic reclamation of the valley fill; ii) a geomorphic reclamation of the valley fill with three detention ponds; and, iii) a geomorphic retrofit design. Results were compared to the response of both the original, undisturbed topography and a conventional valley fill. The peak flowrate, time to peak, and runoff volumes were evaluated at three stages of reclamation (during mining, post-mining ( 5 years)) for a range of storm events (1- through 500-year, 24-hour). The hydrologic response of the geomorphic landform design without detention ponds most closely resembled the values obtained for the original watershed. The geomorphic design with detention ponds lowered the peak flowrate, time of peak, and total runoff volume below the values generated by the original watershed. The runoff storage within the detention ponds provides the potential to allow stream flow in excess of ephemeral conditions. However, the ponds need to be properly sized to allow greater runoff storage if intermittent or perennial stream flow is desired. The effectiveness of the retrofit reclamation design was difficult to determine due to changes in watershed area and drainage pattern. These results indicate that geomorphic landform designs could be used to recreate the approximate hydrologic response of the original watershed for reclaimed mountaintop mine sites in southern West Virginia watersheds.
Snyder, Michael W., "Hydrologic Response of Alternative Valley Fill Reclamation Designs" (2013). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 399.