Using Helicopter Electromagnetic Surveys to Identify Potential Hazards at Mine Waste Impoundments

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In July 2003, helicopter electromagnetic surveys were conducted at 14 coal waste impoundments in southern West Virginia. The purpose of the surveys was to detect conditions that could lead to impoundment failure either by structural failure of the embankment or by the flooding of adjacent or underlying mine works. Specifically, the surveys attempted to: 1) identify saturated zones within the mine waste, 2) delineate filtrate flow paths through the embankment or into adjacent strata and receiving streams, and 3) identify flooded mine workings underlying or adjacent to the waste impoundment. Data from the helicopter surveys were processed to generate conductivity/depth ... continued below

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Hammack, R.W. January 1, 2008.

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In July 2003, helicopter electromagnetic surveys were conducted at 14 coal waste impoundments in southern West Virginia. The purpose of the surveys was to detect conditions that could lead to impoundment failure either by structural failure of the embankment or by the flooding of adjacent or underlying mine works. Specifically, the surveys attempted to: 1) identify saturated zones within the mine waste, 2) delineate filtrate flow paths through the embankment or into adjacent strata and receiving streams, and 3) identify flooded mine workings underlying or adjacent to the waste impoundment. Data from the helicopter surveys were processed to generate conductivity/depth images. Conductivity/depth images were then spatially linked to georeferenced air photos or topographic maps for interpretation. Conductivity/depth images were found to provide a snapshot of the hydrologic conditions that exist within the impoundment. This information can be used to predict potential areas of failure within the embankment because of its ability to image the phreatic zone. Also, the electromagnetic survey can identify areas of unconsolidated slurry in the decant basin and beneath the embankment. Although shallow, flooded mineworks beneath the impoundment were identified by this survey, it cannot be assumed that electromagnetic surveys can detect all underlying mines. A preliminary evaluation of the data implies that helicopter electromagnetic surveys can provide a better understanding of the phreatic zone than the piezometer arrays that are typically used.

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Publisher - in GeoCongress 2008: Geosustainability and Geohazard Mitigation (GSP 178), Proceedings of GeoCongress 2008, ed. by Krishna R. Reddy, Milind V. Khire, and Akram N. Alshawabkeh, Reston, VA: ASCE / GEO Institute, ISBN 978-0-7844-0971-8, 2008, 1203 pp., Geotechnical Special Publication No. 178, pp. 199-206

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  • GeoCongress 2008: The Challenge of Sustainability in the Geoenvironment, Annual Congress of the Geo-Institute of ASCE, New Orleans, LA, Mar. 9-12, 2008

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  • Report No.: DOE/NETL-IR-2008-094
  • Report No.: NETL-TPR-1731
  • Grant Number: None cited
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 937462
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc899265

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  • January 1, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Nov. 4, 2016, 2:12 p.m.

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Hammack, R.W. Using Helicopter Electromagnetic Surveys to Identify Potential Hazards at Mine Waste Impoundments, article, January 1, 2008; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc899265/: accessed August 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.