Mining Publication: Influence of Overlying Strata on Methane Emissions in a Northern West Virginia Coal Mine
Since 1970, abnormally high methane emissions have been observed in eastern sections of the Federal No. 2 Mine operating in the Pittsburgh coalbed in northern West Virginia. The nature and volume of these emissions indicate a source other than the coalbed. An investigation was undertaken to delineate probable methane sources. Gas well information and stratigraphic correlation of corehole data indicate that a sandstone directly above the main coalbed is an additional source of methane emissions. The sandstone body appears to be an ancient stream channel, infilled with fine-grained sand and organic matter. Coalification of the organic matter produced methane as a byproduct. Additional methane presumably migrated into the sandstone unit from the subjacent coalbeds. The methane became trapped in the porous clastic unit by the surrounding impermeable strata. Mine development near this unit creates a significant pressure gradient, triggering abnormal methane emissions into the mine along naturally occurring fractures. Predevelopment methane drainage of the sandstone could be accomplished by completing vertical boreholes along its trend.