2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:20 PM


HORVATH, Lisa, Department of Geology and Geography, West Virginia University, 425 White Hall Road, Morgantown, WV 26506, JOYCE, Jenni, Department of Earth Science, 250 University Ave, California, PA 15419 and NIKITINA, Daria, Department of Earth Sciences, California University of Pennsylvania, 250 University Ave, California, PA 15419, lhorvath@mix.wvu.edu

Groundwater is the main source of drinking water in rural communities of southwestern Pennsylvania. Thirty domestic wells and natural springs within the Pike Run watershed were sampled, analyzed and results compared with National Drinking Water Standards established by the EPA. Results documented higher than normal concentrations of sulfate, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, and iron at sites within the study area. High concentrations of the above ions are indicative of acid and alkaline mine discharge. Previous studies conducted on the surface water of the watershed documented AMD as a non-point source pollutant. This all directly relates to the areas rich 100 year history of coal mining.            

The groundwater hydrology and geochemistry were also evaluated based on local stratigraphy and petrology of hydrologic units, stratigraphic position of aquifers, and possible locations of mining pools. Data collected was georeferenced and inputted into GIS. Water chemistry parameters and geologic data were spatially analyzed using ArcView 9.1.  

Census and health data and survey results were used that established a high incidence of disease found within the watershed.  Medical literature reviewed has showed that high concentrations of ions of Fe2+, Mg2+, Mn2+, SO42-, in the groundwater could be the cause of such diseases as digestive, blood, and lymphatic cancers, heart disease, and neurological disorders.  

Geologic data analysis determined that local aquifers lie within abandoned mined areas. Therefore, alkaline mine drainage is a non-point source pollutant of the groundwater within the watershed.  Since groundwater is being used by local communities as drinking water supply it has negative effects on human health and could be a result of rising cases of cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders in the area.