Southeastern Section–55th Annual Meeting (23–24 March 2006)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


DICKEN, Thomas S. and LASAGE, Danita M., Earth Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, 521 Lancaster Ave, Roark Bldg. Room 103, Richmond, KY 40475,

The Eastern Kentucky Coal Field is characterized by steep mountainous terrain and intense coal production. Rocks in the province, mostly sandstone, coal, shale, and thinly-interbedded limestone, are of Pennsylvanian age and have a regional structural dip to the southeast. Over the past 200 years the region has produced almost 6 billion tons of coal, most of which was obtained by surface mining processes that have impacted local streams. We compared the water quality and geomorphology of a first-order stream draining a watershed in eastern Kentucky that has been surface-mined, to a reference stream in an adjoining watershed covered by a nearly pristine deciduous forest. The reference stream also provided a baseline against which we compared the water quality of six streams impacted by Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) that exhibit similar geology, order, length, and load. Methods used to determine geomorphological data included walking the streams to note evidence of deposition, erosion, stream widening, and pooling. Discharge readings were also conducted along with stream channel surveys, including stream channel development, pebble counts, and bed load classifications. Eight sites along the AMD-impacted streams were sampled monthly to determine water quality, including measurements of pH, electrical conductivity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, hardness, temperature, total acidity, and alkalinity. Preliminary data demonstrate measurable differences between both water quality and geomorphology of the reference stream and that of the comparison streams. The comparison streams exhibited lower pH, higher conductivity, lower alkalinity, and lower level of dissolved oxygen then the reference stream. Preliminary geomorphological data indicate that the reference stream is more stable, based on fewer meanders, fewer areas of erosion or deposition, and less evidence of stream widening.