Kentucky Geological Survey Information Circular


Reconnaissance data for surface waters in Bell County, Kentucky, have been gathered in response to the anticipated need for baseline information related to Federal and State surface-mining regulations. Bell County is particularly well suited for such a study due to past and current coal mining, the widespread distribution of mining and diversity of stratigraphic units affected, the diverse array of both disturbed and undisturbed drainage basins, and the relative ease of access within the county.

Estimated flow rate, temperature, pH, conductivity, and concentration of iron, manganese, and suspended solids were determined for flowing waters collected at 71 scattered sites. Sample localities range from major tributaries of the Cumberland River to first-order streams directly draining both mined and undisturbed areas.

The quality of Bell County streams with respect to criteria of Federal and State surface-mining regulations is good. Streams unaffected by mining have an average pH of 7.4, and conductivity is uniformly less than 500 micromhos/cm. Iron, manganese, and suspended solids contents of these streams are low, averaging 0.7, less than 0.1, and 3.0 milligrams per liter, respectively. Streams draining basins affected by surface coal mining show geochemical and sedimentological characteristics within current statute guidelines, with only three exceptions. These exceptions are the North Fork of Straight Creek and its tributaries in the immediate Crockett vicinity, Back Branch at Pruden, and Little Clear Creek in the vicinity of Clear Creek Springs.

Publication Date



Series XI

Report Number

Information Circular 5

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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Geology Commons