Erosion and Sediment Control

Poster Presentation

Short paper fiber as a soil amendment for mine reclamation in Central Appalachia

Tuesday, February 13
1:30 PM - 3:30 PM


Level of Presentation: All: Suitable for a broad audience

This presentation evaluates the use of a paper manufacturing by-product as an amendment to the growth layer of an innovative cap and cover system in surface mine reclamation. Information will be given on the success of cases able to establish and maintain vegetation directly in coal refuse. Participants will learn about this novel approach to reclamation that is under evaluation in Central Appalachia.

Innovative reclamation strategies are needed in the coal producing region of Central Appalachia to reduce sediment yield and manage water quality concerns. This study tested the effect of adding short paper fiber as a soil amendment to help establish vegetative cover in coarse coal refuse. Two blends of short paper fiber and refuse were tested (i.e., 80% refuse with 20% short paper fiber and 60% refuse with 40% paper fiber) as well as a control sample containing only coal refuse. All samples were tested using the same seeding mixture in identical growing conditions for 16 weeks. Ground cover, stem height and biomass were monitored. Maximum ground cover was observed in the 80/20 blend (=77.1%). Ground cover in the refuse samples did not exceed 0.5%. Similar results were observed with biomass measurements. Therefore, the addition of short paper fiber shows potential to support vegetation establishment in coarse coal refuse. This potential is currently being tested a at large-scale field site (~ 0.3 acre plots) on a coarse coal refuse pile in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. The large-scale testing also introduced the use of compacted low permeability barrier. Monitoring for vegetation ground cover, water quality, stability, and infiltration began with the site construction in September 2017 and will run through spring 2017.

Learning Objectives:

Target Audience: Engineer,Mining Industry

Levi Cyphers

Graduate Research Assistant
West Virginia University

I am a graduate research assistant at West Virginia University while pursuing a Master's degree in Civil Engineering. I received my Bachelor's degree from WVU in May 2017. I am currently the laboratory instructor for the introductory soil mechanics classes. My research project is working with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection on an innovative reclamation strategy for an abandoned surface mine in southern West Virginia. Outside of school work, I enjoy attending the Mountaineer football and basketball games.

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