Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Environmental and Soil Sciences

Major Professor

John T. Ammons

Committee Members

Michael E. Essington, Amy M. Johnson, Robert S. Freeland

Abstract

The aim of Part One was to discover and investigate the physical and chemical properties of coal minesoils occurring within the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (BSF) in order to better understand the nature of these anthropogenic soils. In particular, this information was to identify which, if any, un-reclaimed or recently reclaimed minesoils were actively producing acid mine drainage (AMD) and what properties were inhibiting revegetation. Historical knowledge and maps were used to locate more than 30 un-reclaimed and reclaimed minesoil sites, which were mapped with GPS. Soil profiles were exposed on 18 sites and grab samples taken on another 12. The morphological properties of each full profile were described according to the National Soil Survey Handbook and samples were taken from each horizon. Chemical properties analyzed for include: particle size, acid-base account, pH, exchangeable aluminum, manganese oxides, soil organic carbon, cation-exchange capacity, exchangeable bases, Mehlich I-extractable elements, and total elemental concentrations.

Significant differences in the following properties (averaged) were discovered between the un-reclaimed and reclaimed minesoils: slope, percent rock fragments, dominant lithology, net neutralization potential, pH, extractable aluminum, base saturation, several Mehlich I-extractable nutrients and total elemental concentrations. Hierarchical clustering analysis revealed similar findings and also highlighted instances where reclaimed minesoils were statistically more similar to un-reclaimed minesoils than to other reclaimed minesoils. This indicated that reclamation efforts may not have been completely successful on these sites.

In Part Two, minesoil profiles were classified according to Soil Taxonomy and according to proposed amendments by the International Committee for Anthropogenic Soils (ICOMANTH). The ICOMANTH amendments provided more informative classifications for coal minesoils in the BSF however, shortcomings were noted. Additional recommendations were made and the minesoils were again classified according to these recommendations. Compared to both the Soil Taxonomy and the ICOMANTH classifications, those according to the proposed additional amendments revealed more of the unique properties of the minesoils studied in this project. The results of this study can aid the National Park Service with future land management of the minesoils located within the BSF boundaries and other users of drastically disturbed minesoils.

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Soil Science Commons

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