Levi Cyphers

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair

Leslie C Hopkinson

Committee Co-Chair

Seung Ho Hong

Committee Member

John D Quaranta


Over 3,000 abandoned mine lands in the Appalachian regions of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky and are in need of reclamation. This research tested an alternative cap and cover reclamation design using short paper fiber as a soil amendment in a coarse coal refuse vegetation layer. Short paper fiber is the solid residuals extracted from the paper manufacturing process, and treated as waste. Short paper fiber is a nutrient dense material that has been successfully tested as a soil amendment in soils. The intent of the vegetation layer was to support grass growth and persistence, stabilize the site, and reduce acid mine drainage (AMD).;First, a 0.28 acre field site was designed to demonstrate and test geomorphic reclamation features in Appalachia. The field site was composed of three test plots (60% refuse with 40% paper fiber, 80% refuse with 20% paper fiber, 100% refuse) that centrally drained into a geomorphic channel. A hydraulic barrier composed of compacted refuse and slopes up to 2H:1V were included. Construction was completed September 2017 and the site was monitored (i.e. vegetation ground cover, infiltration of vegetation layer and hydraulic barrier, compaction, surface runoff water quality, and surface temperature). The constructability of the site was also studied to identify suitable construction methods during the final reclamation of the full site.;Vegetation ground cover reached a maximum of 29.4% in the plot with 20% paper fiber. Infiltration of the refuse was reduced 30.5% in the hydraulic barrier of the plots containing paper fiber from the in situ material, despite not meeting the 95% required compaction density. Surface temperature varied 11°C across the plots, affecting grass germination. Though a longer duration of monitoring is needed, preliminary findings show that the mixture ratio containing 20% short paper fiber outperformed the mixture ratio containing 40% paper fiber. Reducing short paper fiber for the growth layer means additional savings in the cost of the final reclamation.