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Hydrological and geophysical investigation of streamflow losses and restoration strategies in an abandoned mine lands setting

March 1, 2017

Longitudinal discharge and water-quality campaigns (seepage runs) were combined with surface-geophysical surveys, hyporheic-temperature profiling, and watershed-scale hydrological monitoring to evaluate the locations, magnitude, and impact of streamwater losses from the West Creek subbasin of the West West Branch Schuylkill River into the underground Oak Hill Mine complex that extends beneath the watershed divide. Abandoned mine drainage (AMD), containing iron and other contaminants, from the Oak Hill Boreholes to the West Branch Schuylkill River was sustained during low-flow conditions and correlated to streamflow lost through the West Creek streambed. During high-flow conditions, streamflow was transmitted throughout West Creek; however, during low-flow conditions, all streamflow from the perennial headwaters was lost within the 300-to-600-m "upper reach" where an 1889 mine map indicated steeply dipping coalbeds underlie the channel. During low-flow conditions, the channel within the "intermediate reach" 700-to-1650-m downstream gained groundwater seepage with higher pH and specific conductance than upstream; however, all streamflow 1650-to-2050-m downstream was lost to underlying mines. Electrical resistivity and electromagnetic conductivity surveys indicated conductive zones beneath the upper reach, where flow loss occurred, and through the intermediate reach, where gains and losses occurred. Temperature probes at 0.06-to-0.10-m depth within the hyporheic zone of the intermediate reach indicated potential downward fluxes as high as 2.1x10-5 m/s. Cumulative streamflow lost from West Creek during seepage runs averaged 53.4 L/s, which equates to 19.3 percent of the daily average discharge of AMD from the Oak Hill Boreholes and a downward flux of 1.70x10-5 m/s across the 2.1-km-by-1.5-m West Creek stream-channel area.

Publication Year 2017
Title Hydrological and geophysical investigation of streamflow losses and restoration strategies in an abandoned mine lands setting
DOI 10.2113/gseegeosci.23.4.243
Authors Charles A. Cravotta, Laura Sherrod, Daniel G. Galeone, Wayne G. Lehman, Terry E. Ackman, Alexa Kramer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental & Engineering Geoscience
Index ID 70193819
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pennsylvania Water Science Center