Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Committee Chair

Spencer, Hugh T.


Strip mining--Environmental aspects--Illinois; Strip mining--Environmental aspects--Kentucky


The areas studied exhibit different aspects of the problem of orphan strip mines. The Palzo tract is a 192 acre parcel of orphan land in southern Illinois that is being reclaimed by incorporating sewage sludge into the spoil and seeding. Seven sampling stations were established along Sugar Creek which drains the Palzo area. Six of these stations were well above the area to be reclaimed. The seventh was located below the area receiving acid mine drainage. A study of Cairn's, Simpson's, Patten's, Margalef's, Menhinick's, and Wilhm and Dorris' diversity indices at the stations showed that such indices are misleading and should be used only with knowledge of the benthic organisms' habits and habitats. The Clear Creek swamp in western Kentucky is a result of orphan strip mines; it will never be reclaimed. Differences in benthic fauna and ecosystems which develop in acid mine drainage and freshwater runoff areas are discussed. Both of the above areas have been used as study areas for engineering students. It was concluded from the study that when funds are made available for the reclamation of orphan strip mines, (1) the most severe problems should be reclaimed first, (2) if an area has a viable ecosystem, and/or, has no acid mine drainage problems, it should not be disturbed.