Geological Survey report explores hidden water resources

Feb 05, 2014 by Steve Hinnefeld
This map shows the underground workings of the Submarine Coal Mine, which operated from 1919-30 in Vigo County, Ind. Credit: Indiana Geological Survey

Abandoned coal mines scattered across southwestern Indiana may be a future source of valuable groundwater that could be used for a variety of purposes, according to a new report published by the Indiana Geological Survey.

More than 194,000 acres of Indiana are underlain by underground coal mines, and the amount of that fills the voids of these abandoned mines may be as much as 172 billion gallons, the says. These potentially high-yielding coal-mine aquifers may represent resources of significant public and commercial value.

"Abandoned underground coal mines have often been forgotten once their intended purpose has been exploited," said John C. Steinmetz, director of the Indiana Geological Survey. "Now, however, with this study, a potential new resource has been revealed. Not only does it document a source of water in the state that has heretofore not even been considered, but it opens possibilities for such other purposes as renewable geothermal heat-pump and cooling systems, and even for energy storage."

At the same time, little is known about the quality of water within flooded , the mechanisms of recharge and discharge, or the hydrodynamics of individual mine pools. The report, "Characterization of Groundwater in the Coal-Mine Aquifers of Indiana," summarizes the limited data specific to Indiana that are available, and suggests lines of research that promote the future use—and remediation, where necessary—of this potentially valuable resource.

Explore further: Flood disaster risk is more complex than expected

More information: Harper, D. H., Branam, T. D., and Olyphant, G. A., 2011 (in review), "Characterization of groundwater in the coal-mine aquifers of Indiana: Indiana Geological Survey Special Report." igs.indiana.edu/bookstore/details.cfm?ItemID=2170&Pub_Num=SR73

Related Stories

Mining for heat

May 02, 2012

Underground mining is a sweaty job, and not just because of the hard work it takes to haul ore: Mining tunnels fill with heat naturally emitted from the surrounding rock. A group of researchers from McGill University in Canada ...

Recommended for you

Flood disaster risk is more complex than expected

1 hour ago

Research from the University of Adelaide has shed further light on the complex issue of flood risk, with the latest findings showing the potential for flood risk to both increase and decrease in the same ...

Groups want review of Shell's Arctic regulatory filings

4 hours ago

Two groups petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday for an investigation of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and what the groups call misstatements in regulatory filings regarding the risk of a catastrophic oil ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.