The coal industry of Kentucky is an important market for limestone. Coal producers use limestone as rock dust for explosion abatement in underground coal mines and as a neutralizing agent in surface-mine reclamation and acid-drainage control. Haulage-road construction and maintenance require crushed stone.
Coal-bearing rocks of Pennsylvanian age in the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field generally do not contain limestones that are sufficiently thick to quarry or mine economically, but in the southeastern part of the coal field, fault movement has brought the Newman Limestone to the surface along Pine Mountain. The Newman was sampled at three sites in Letcher County to determine its chemical quality and potential for industrial use, particularly as a source of low-silica rock dust. Analysis of the foot-by-foot samples shows that the Newman contains several zones of low-silica stone, 10 to 39 feet thick. A few intervals of high-calcium limestone, 12 to 24 feet thick, coincide with or occur in the low-silica zones. The deposits of low-silica and high-calcium stone are thickest in the southwestern part of Letcher County and commonly thin northeastward.
The thicker deposits of chemically pure limestone and dolomite may be an economically exploitable source of rock dust for underground coal mines, and a source of stone for surface-mine reclamation and acid-drainage control. Production from deposits in the Newman, however, will be complicated by the steep southeastward to southward dip (20 to 42°) of the beds, possible displacement along small faults, and fracturing of the limestone.
Information Circular 41
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
This investigation of limestone and dolomite resources in eastern Kentucky for coal-related industries was supported by the Kentucky Energy Cabinet, principally through grants from the University of Kentucky Institute for Mining and Minerals Research.
Dever, Garland R. Jr.; Robl, Thomas L.; Moody, Jack R.; Walker, Frank H.; Ellsworth, George W. Jr.; and Barron, Lance S., "Low-Silica and High-Calcium Stone in the Newman Limestone (Mississippian) on Pine Mountain, Letcher County, Southeastern Kentucky" (1992). Kentucky Geological Survey Information Circular. 48.