Infiltration Rates in Reclaimed Surface Coal Mines
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Reclamation of land disturbed due to mining in arid and semiarid environments occurs across the globe. Large-scale surface mines provide unique opportunities to examine the reclamation process across a landscape. The objectives of this research were to (1) measure infiltration rates in reclaimed surface coal mines and (2) determine the effects of soil properties on ground cover on infiltration rates of surface coal mines. In this study, reclaimed land 10–15 and 20–25 years old, and native reference site (undisturbed) were investigated at two large surface coal mines in Wyoming, USA. Infiltration rates were measured using double-ring infiltrometer method. The soil properties including bulk density, pH, carbonate content, organic carbon content, aggregate stability, electrical conductivity, and soil texture were analyzed using standard methods. The ground cover was estimated visually. Statistical analysis was conducted to determine if any correlations between infiltration rate and soil properties and ground cover exist. Results suggest that at Mine 1, infiltration rates on reclaimed land were found to be significantly higher in the 20–25-year-old reclamation than the 10–15-year-old reclamation and the native site. At Mine 2, the native site had significantly higher infiltration than 20–25-year-old reclamation, which in turn had significantly higher infiltration rates than the 10–15-year-old reclaimed site. Along with infiltration, soil characteristics were examined. Overall, the findings of this study suggest soil texture and plant cover play an important role in controlling infiltration rates in reclaimed surface coal mines.
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