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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Erodibility of Fly Ash Used as a Topsoil Substitute in Mineland Reclamation


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 3, p. 805-811
    Received: Jan 19, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): jgorman@wvu.edu
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  1. James M. Gorman *,
  2. John C. Sencindiver,
  3. Donald J. Horvath,
  4. Rabindar N. Singh and
  5. Robert F. Keefer
  1. Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, West Virginia Univ., P.O. Box 6108, Morgantown, WV 26506-6108.



Fly ash, a by-product of coal-fired power plants, has been used successfully in reclaiming abandoned mine lands by improving mine-soil chemical and physical properties. However, the fine sand-silt particle size of fly ash may make it more susceptible than natural soils to detachment and transport by erosive processes. Furthermore, the high content of silt-size particles in fly ash may make it more susceptible to surface crust formation, resulting in reduced infiltration and increased surface runoff and erosion. In the summer of 1989, fly ash-wood waste mixtures, used as a topsoil substitute, were surface applied on two separate mine sites in Preston County, WV, one with 10% slope and the other 20% slope. Erosion rates were measured directly using the Linear Erosion/Elevation Measuring Instrument (LEMI). Erosion measurements were taken during the first two growing seasons on both sites. Erosion values were up to five times greater on the fly ash-treated minesoil than on the untreated minesoil. Mulching with wood chips reduced fly ash erosion to about one-half the loss of the unmulched plots. Erosion was related to both the amount and type of ground cover. Increased vegetative ground cover resulted in reduced erosion. Mosses and fungi appeared to provide better erosion protection than grass-legume cover.

Published with the approval of the Director of the West Virginia Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station as Scientific Article #2712. This research was supported in part by funding from the National Mine Land Reclamation Center and the Allegheny Power Service Corporation.

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