Marshall Miller & Associates - Hydrogeology and the Mining Lifecycle

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Hydrogeology and the Mining Lifecycle

To the layperson, “Hydrogeology” is defined as a branch of geology concerned with the occurrence, use, and functions of surface water and groundwater. At Marshall Miller & Associates, hydrogeology means much more than that. To gauge the environmental impact that a mining enterprise will have on water tables and supplies, we apply hydrogeology science, technology and best practices beginning at the planning phase to anticipate effects on water resources through the environmental reclamation phase of a mine’s

Environmental Geochemistry& Mining

Marshall Miller & Associates is recognized as an industry leader in the design and implementation of h.  Our examinations are used to assess the interactions between both underground and surface mining on water resources, the hydrogeological framework that provides the basis of probable environmental impacts of mining, and the anticipation of changes in mining conditions over time.  MM&A hydrogeologists investigate the geologic, structural, and geotechnical controls influencing the sub-surface hydrogeological system to determine the nature and degree of interaction between that system and mining.


Applications of MM&A Hydrological Investigations

Marshall Miller & Associates relies on its staff of skilled and experienced hydrogeologists at each phase of a mining operation to conduct:

  • Pre-mining assessments of the hydrogeological impact that a mining venture will have on the ecology of a site and the elements that a reclamation plan will need to mitigate environmental impacts once operations conclude.
  • Assessment of probable mining conditions beneath stream valleys, the impact of mining on streams and post-mining impacts on water systems.
  • Assessment of impact on domestic water supplies.
  • Evaluation of conditions to be encountered in shaft and slope construction, the remediation of drainage impacts from flooded underground workings and/or surface disturbed areas.


MM&A Hydrogeology Methods and Practices

Hydrogeological evaluations conducted by MM&A begin with a detailed geologic assessment of the subsurface from drill cores and downhole geophysical logs.  This process allows us to identify fractures, reveal evidence of weathering and the aquifer or aquitard potential of the various strata.  To assure the reliability of its evaluations, MM&A applies in-house geophysical logging capabilities, including acoustic televiewers, borehole video cameras, fluid conductivity and temperature probes, and many others to assist in hydrogeologic investigations.  Based on the data we collect, MM&A characterizes the geologic and hydrogeologic system and identifies factors that may enhance hydrogeological interactions of aquifers and the mine.


Hidden in Plain Sight – Revealing Subsurface Conditions

It doesn’t matter if you are mining deposits on the surface or below ground, you need to understand the sub-surface hydrogeological framework to monitor and detect changing conditions, map and verify groundwater flow paths, and conduct mining operations in a manner that minimizes adverse interaction with the natural system.  MM&A conducts field data collection activities to define the hydrogeologic system, including water sampling, flow measurement, dye tracing, monitoring well installation, and aquifer testing.  Aquifer conductivity is evaluated by means of in-situ pressure tests (“packer tests”), aquifer pumping tests, and slug tests to create flow nets and water models for the pre-mining hydrogeologic regime and to evaluate how conditions change due to mining operations over time.

About the Author

Marshall Miller & Associates performs a wide range of geological, environmental, hydrogeological and mining engineering services. MM&A’s seasoned staff of engineering personnel delivers design solutions for a variety of projects and industry-specific applications.