Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Description of the physical environment and coal-mining history of west-central Indiana, with emphasis on six small watersheds

January 1, 1994

Information on the geology, geomorphology, soils, climate, hydrology, water use, land use, population, and coal mining history of Clay, Owen, Sullivan, and Vigo Counties in Indiana is summarized. Site-specific information is given on the morphology , geology, soils, land use, coal mining history, and hydrologic instrumentation of the six watersheds which are each less than 3 sq mi in area. The Wabash, White, and Eel Rivers are the major drainages in west-central Indiana. Average annual precipitation is about 39.5 in/yr and average annual runoff is about 13 in/yr. The most productive aquifers are confined or unconfined outwash aquifers located along the major rivers. Bedrock aquifers are regionally insignificant but are the sole source of groundwater for areas that lack outwash, alluvium, or sand and gravel lenses in till. Indiana has more than 17 billion short tons of recoverable coal reserves; about 11% can be mined by surface methods. Almost half of Indiana's surface reserves are in Clay, Owen, Sullivan, and Vigo Counties. More than 50,000 acres in west-central Indiana have been disturbed by surface coal mining from 1941 through 1980. Big Slough and Hooker Creek are streams that drain unmined, agricultural watersheds. Row-crop corn and soybeans are the principal crops. Soils are moderately well drained silt loams, and the watersheds well developed dendritic drainage systems. Unnamed tributaries drain mined and reclaimed watersheds. Ridges of mine spoil have been graded to a gently rolling topography. Soils are well drained and consist of 6 to 12 inches of silt-loam topsoil that was stockpiled and then replaced over shale and sandstone fragments of the graded mine spoil. Grasses and legumes form the vegetative cover in each watershed. Pond Creek and an unnamed tributary to Big Branch are streams that drain mined and unreclaimed watersheds. Soils are very well drained shaly silty loams that have formed on steeply sloping banks. Both watersheds contain numerous impoundments of water and have enclosed areas that do not contribute surface runoff to streamflow. The ridges of mine spoil are covered with pine trees, but much of the soil surface is devoid of vegetation. (Lantz-PTT)

Citation Information

Publication Year 1987
Title Description of the physical environment and coal-mining history of west-central Indiana, with emphasis on six small watersheds
DOI 10.3133/ofr87212
Authors Jeffrey D. Martin, Charles G. Crawford, R.F. Duwelius, D.E. Renn
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 87-212
Index ID ofr87212
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization