WHAT MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL COAL MINING LOOKS LIKE
Visualizing the Environmental Impacts of Mountaintop Removal
August 24, 2012 (SkyTruth via EcoWatch)
“…[W]ith LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data and digital elevation models (DEMs)…[it is possible] to create a profile of the terrain of a mountaintop removal mine before and after mining activity…[SkyTruth used] the controversial Spruce No.1 mountaintop removal coal mine in Logan County, West Virginia as the test subject.”
“Google Earth imagery showed that significant mining activity had occurred between 2003 and 2011…[A] digital elevation model (DEM) of the mine location that shows what the topography looked like in 2003, from the WV GIS Technical Center.
“This elevation dataset was created from aerial survey photography that was flown in 2003…LiDAR data that was collected over the area in 2010 from WV View…[was] to a DEM using ArcGIS…[to visualize] the change in elevation over that seven year period.”
“…[H]ill shades of the DEMs…better visualize the difference…[A]reas affected by mountaintop removal [were blued] and the areas affected by valley fill [were yellowed] and [both were] overlaid…over the hill shades of the mine in 2003 and 2010…[along with a profile graph of the elevation along two cross sections before and after mining activity…”
“…[An analysis of the results] found that 7.4 million cubic meters of rock was removed by way of mountain top removal mining and 9.8 million cubic meters of rock has filled what once was a valley. Why the difference? The fill has a lot of gaps and spaces, so it’s not as compact as the original, mined bedrock…”