Year of Publication

2019

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

First Advisor

Dr. Kevin M. Yeager

Abstract

The spread of surface coal mining has resulted in loss of forests in the Appalachian region. The Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) was developed to provide guidance for restoring forests on reclaimed mined land. This study hypothesizes that the FRA will result in larger magnitude of sediment accumulation rates in reclaimed mine sites compared to those reclaimed using grassland reclamation. Three sediment cores and six trenches were sampled within four reclaimed mined and three previously logged sites in eastern Kentucky. Samples were processed for radionuclides, grain-size, stable isotopes (δ13C), and POC. LIDAR data were used to identify valley fills, while historical aerial photography was used to identify changes in vegetative cover from 1994 to 2016. Radionuclide dating was used to determine sediment accumulation rates over the previous 100 years. Results from logged sites are inconclusive. δ13C data for all sites fall within the range expected for forested landscapes (C3), and do not show any transitions from grassland to forests. POC data indicates that inventories and fluxes were the same for mined and logged sites. Sediment accumulation rates for reclaimed mined lands show elevated values after the implementation of the FRA, compared to grassland reclamation, thus supporting the hypothesis for previously mined sites.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2019.382

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