Hydrogeology Research Center

Hydrogeology Research Center

The Hydrogeology Research Center is a joint laboratory for hydrogeology between the Eberly College of Arts and Science and the WV Water Research Institute on the WVU Campus in Morgantown. Its focus is on applied water research problems related to mining, water availability, and groundwater contamination within West Virginia and the mid-Appalachian region. The HRC staff are faculty, research associates, and graduate students based in the WVU Department of Geology and Geography. The HRC Director is Joe Donovan.


Mine Hydrology Studies:

  • WV 173: Monongalia Basin Mine Pool Project–The objectives include mapping underground mine pools, monitoring mine-water levels, water chemistry, and rates of water rise and differences between shallow cover near outcrops versus central basin. Stream water quality changes since the mid 1960’s were evaluated. In addition, an attempts were made to evaluate the rate data to develop an improved macroscopic rate expression for the abiotic dissolution of pyrite, as well as develop the framework for a geochemical model that includes rate-limited and equilibrium reactions for water chemistry evolution in a water-pyrite system.hrcvideo
  • Mine Water for Power Plant Cooling–The objectives of this work are to identify cost-saving alternatives to the current coal-fired power plant cooling processes. Non-traditional water sources, such as a coal mine discharges, have the potential to reduce the capital cost of acquiring the cooling water while at the same time improving the efficiency of the cooling process due to the constant water temperatures associated with deep mine discharges. In addition, the potential use of the underground mines themselves as a wide area heat sink will be evaluated for its feasibility.
  • Nickle Plate Mine Blowout, January 2005, McDonald, Pennsylvania–The water which flooded parts of McDonald, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, January 25, 2005, came from the long-abandoned Nickle Plate Mine, north of the downtown area. This mine is part of an interconnected complex of mines (shown in orange on the map (L)) orange map image nickel mine which extends to the north. A detailed map (see link below), complied from the old mine maps, shows the boundaries of the old mine works in relation to the town. A perspective view map from 1897 showing the original mine portal and the  mine blowout can images be viewed here.



Karst Hydrogeological Studies: There are abundant water resources in West Virginia’s Eastern panhandle. This region includes the Appalachian Great Valley in the East and the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachians in the West. The entire area is characterized by folded sedimentary rocks. While water has always been plentiful in this region, recent droughts and “rural sprawl” from the Eastern Seaboard require that aquifer potential be evaluated and optimized, while protecting groundwater quality from the effects of development.