Hands-on experiments to learn about AMD

 Developed by:

 Timothy Craddock
WVDEP's NPS Program
601 57th Street, SE
Charleston, WV  25304

 Dr. Eleanora Robbins
Department of Geological Sciences
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA  92182

 Sandra McSurdy
Department of Energy
Pittsburgh Research Center
Pittsburgh, PA  15236

Acid mine drainage (AMD) is water contaminated when pyrite (iron sulfide) is exposed to air and water.  The exposure often results in reactions that form sulfuric acid and dissolved iron. Some or all of this iron can precipitate to form the red, orange, or yellow sediments (yellowboy) on the streambed. The acid runoff further dissolves heavy metals such as aluminum, copper, lead and manganese. The rate and degree which acid can increase mine drainage proceeds by the action of certain bacteriaNote: There is also Basic mine drainage (BMD).

The northern Appalachian coal fields (bituminous coal) extend from northwest Pennsylvania, south of the New York state line through western Pennsylvania, southeast Ohio, western Maryland, throughout much of West Virginia, southwest Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and northeast Tennessee.  Mine drainage is particularly heavy in western Pennsylvania, and northern and central West Virginia. Northeast Pennsylvania is largely anthracite coal.

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