Leveling the Mountains: The Multidimensional Effects of Mountaintop Removal Coal Extraction

Authors: Ryan Thomson*, UF Department of Sociology & Criminology
Topics: Mountain Environments, Remote Sensing, Geomorphology
Keywords: Mountaintop Removal, Reclaimation, Landscape Change, Resource Extraction,
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In order to evaluate a series of reclamation claims made by the coal industry, terrain analysis explores the lasting spatial-temporal effects of mountaintop removal coal mining throughout the coalfields of southern West Virginia. This is accomplished by geocalculating the cumulative regional scope of affected areas as well as modeling the post-extraction changes within the physical landscape. Remote sensing (LiDar) data of the Cabin Creek mine (Kayford Mountain border) and Canary Coal LLC serves as in-depth case study for assessing changes within the terrain and exploring hydrological flow. Secondary historical data helps illuminate the social costs and ecological sacrifice to befall Southern Appalachia. Findings suggest a complex series of natural and industrial interactions which prevent vegetative reclamation. Industrial alterations exhibit a responsive character to erosion, particularly along the artificial valley fills and central berms, including the barrier surrounding Moccasin Hollow slurry impoundment. Remote sensing provides one viable avenue for understanding the coming decades of implications following extraction and the effects it will continue to have on the physical terrain of the region.

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