Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM


BURKHART, Patrick1, IKSIC, Christine2, LITZINGER, Nichole1, ANDRESKY, Lisa3 and UNDERWOOD, Ronnie3, (1)Geography, Geology, and Environment, Slippery Rock University, 335 ATS, Slippery Rock, PA 16057, (2)Precision Laser and Instrument Co, Ambridge, PA 15003, (3)Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA 16057,

We are concerned about a permit application to mine portions of the Jacksville esker, Butler County, Pennsylvania, which is purportedly the largest extant esker in the Commonwealth. Our concerns focus on the potential loss of baseflow to an exceptional value wetland, which might arise from removal of two portions of the esker. Water table maps drawn from the monitoring data included in the application rather consistently show a hydraulic gradient northward from the esker to the wetland. While one esker segment is rather isolated, another esker segment apparently provides a flow path for seepage from an adjacent kame delta into the wetland. It has been reported that the one portion of the esker comprises less than 2% of the drainage area, thus contributes less than 2% of flow to the wetland. We are preparing watershed maps to independently assess the watershed area for wetland one, the esker segments, and the portion of the kame delta contributing flow to the wetland. We suspect that the outwash in these deposits contributes a greater portion of the hydrologic budget for the wetlands than their portion of areal coverage within the watershed, perhaps contributing half of the baseflow. Lastly, we expect that removal of the esker will augment wetland disturbance arising from noise and light from the processing plant, which would gain line-of-sight access to the wetland after removal of the esker ridge. Beyond our concerns over source water protection for the wetland, we object to the destruction of the esker portions containing the ice marginal facies, resulting from discharge into the Wisconsinan pro-glacial lake. We further assert that the Constitution of the Commonwealth requires protection of this unique landform, when it states, “Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”