Paper No. 12-1
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM
DEVELOPING A KARST MAP FOR WEST VIRGINIA
State regulatory agencies increasingly consider karst terrain when issuing Underground Injection Control permits, approving new horizontal oil and gas well permits, and allowing landfills to accept drill cuttings. These activities hold the potential for environmental damage, aquifer contamination, or serious accident through surface spills, poor casing jobs, or drilling into underground voids. New horizontal drilling legislation tasked the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey (WVGES) with developing a map showing areas of potential karst in the state. Karst can occur in West Virginia where soluble rocks such as the Greenbrier and Helderberg limestones occur near or at the surface. These rocks occur predominantly in the eastern and southeastern parts of the state. Using a digitized map of the Geology of West Virginia at 1:250,000 scale, WVGES geologists created a map showing where thick carbonate units crop out, and overlaid locations of publically-known caves as well as information from various karst related datasets pertaining to West Virginia. Where available, modern WVGES maps at a scale of 1:24,000 created with funding from the National Park Service and the US Geological Survey STATEMAP program were invaluable in developing the statewide karst map. This map serves as a guide to regulatory agencies to determine whether areas need further examination before industrial operations proceed. While useful in the regulation of drilling activities and associated waste disposal, the statewide karst map can be refined further with completion of 1:24,000 scale mapping of quadrangles with karst terrain, observation of surface karst features from LidAR data, and hydrological studies.