The Coalbed Mapping Project is one of the greatest tools available on coalfield geology. For most of the coalfields, the project has maps of each individual coal seam, where exactly the seam has been mined, both underground and surface, the elevation above sea level of the seam, the thickness of the seam, and percentage of noncoal “partings” contained in the seams. This information is invaluable in determining the flow of water in underground mines, the desirability of mining certain seams underground or on the surface, how much overburden will be removed to surface mine certain seams and a host of other important questions. NOTE: The project is ongoing and not all coal seams in all areas are yet mapped, but the coverage in the southern coalfields is generally very good and is continuously improving.
Because this is not a DEP generated tool, the help features are extremely well done and careful reading of the documentation should give you all the information that you need to use the tool. Explanations of the different layers can be found under “Coverage Explanations” and information on how to navigate the tool can be found under “Interactive Map Help”. There is only one feature that isn't discussed in the help documents. That feature is the ability to extract and download the information you find.
Any information contained in these maps can be extracted and downloaded to your computer as GIS files. These can then be open and used in a GIS program and combined with other spatial data or in turn be converted to KML files for use with Google Earth. To extract whatever you are currently viewing, click the button on the bottom right corner of the navigation panel in the upper left corner of the screen.
These maps are also linked to the Mine Information Database System (MIDS), a fairly comprehensive collection of underground mine maps. If you selected “Mined and Remaining Coal” as the actively layer and query an underground mine void, some basic information about that underground mine will appear at the bottom of the map. Clicking on the link under “Aperture Card Number” will open a new tab with that underground basic information in MIDS. From that page, clicking on the “Document Number” will take you to a page with downloadable images of the mine maps for those mines that have available maps. For unknown reasons, mine maps with Aperture Card Numbers starting with 500 or 953 are not available to the public. You can search the MIDS system directly here:
NOTE: No specific information about surface mines is available from these maps. Only where the seams have been mined is available.
All Mining Map
Besides the maps for each individual coal seam, there is also a mapping tool that displays mining in every seam all at once. This is called the “All Mining Map” and it can be reached by clicking on “All Mining IMS” on the main page of the Coalbed Mapping Project.
The navigation is similar to the coalbed maps with the tool bars moved to slightly different places. Each type of mining is represented by a different color:
Underground mine – gray
Surface mine (area, MTR, contour) - fuchsia
Highwall mine – purple
Auger mine – yellow-orange
This map can give you a good sense of all mining activities in a certain area, but the map is still in development and not all of the features work all the time, particularly being able to click to mines and obtain additional information about them.