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Assessing landform alterations induced by mountaintop mining

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DOI: 10.4236/ns.2013.52A034    5,213 Downloads   8,786 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

A comprehensive impact analysis of mountaintop removal and valley fill (MTR/VF) mining requires an understanding of landform alterations since ecological impacts are so intricately linked. In this study we investigated mining in the Coal River Watershed, West Virginia, USA, using landform terrain analysis. Previous studies have relied on elevation differencing of pre- and post-mining surfaces to assess absolute elevation and volumetric change. Our landscape analysis, utilizing light detection and ranging (LiDAR)-derived elevation data, indicated specific landform types and distributions that were significantly altered after MTR/VF mining and reclamation. The use of categorical landform data provides insights to assessing and understanding the extent of topographically altered mountaintops. Our study provides an opportunity to further examine the impact of MTR/VF on forest communities, terrestrial habitat, ecosystem health, and biodiversity.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Maxwell, A. and Strager, M. (2013) Assessing landform alterations induced by mountaintop mining. Natural Science, 5, 229-237. doi: 10.4236/ns.2013.52A034.

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