Reclaimed Mineland

Reclaimed Mineland

During the Validation Phase, MRCSP worked with researchers from West Virginia University to investigate mineland reclamation practices and measure effectiveness for carbon sequestration. As seen in the map below, which provides the mine area by county for Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, there are substantial amounts of mineland in the MRCSP region.
Six mined sites in northern West Virginia were identified for sampling. Some of these sites were reclaimed 20 years ago, others were still in the process of being reclaimed in 2006. Comparing carbon measurements from mine sites of different ages from similar locations allows researchers to assess basic soil carbon at the beginning of a reclamation process, and over time.

One of the first research projects involved determining the initial levels of carbon in the soil at the start of a project. This study helped to address a gap in the literature regarding this information. By measuring soil carbon from the mine site reclaimed in 2006, the MRCSP developed an initial soil carbon stock for reclaimed mine sites. Understanding the initial levels of carbon will help researchers better understand how much can be sequestered by mine reclamation.
The six sites studied in the Validation Phase have similar slopes, but different aspects (i.e., face different directions). The research evaluated whether the different aspects affect the levels of sequestration. For example, there may be different amounts of carbon that can be sequestered on south-facing versus north-facing sites.

Soil carbon measurements were compared to undisturbed pastureland nearby to assess how well mine sites sequester carbon. In addition, researchers collected and analyzed soil samples from identified reclaimed mine sites. Sampling mine sites of different ages allowed researchers to calculate the annual rate of change of soil carbon accumulation in mined soils. The sites were geo-referenced and re-sampled over time to assess the change in the soil carbon stock.

Research was also conducted to identify additional reclaimed mine sites in other MRCSP states that are appropriate and available for sampling. Measurements of tree growth, when possible, and soil carbon for reclaimed mineland will also provide additional opportunities to validate carbon accumulation models used for terrestrial sequestration elsewhere. The results from these studies will provide valuable information to both landowners and policymakers.
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