Appraisal of Hydrologic Information Needed in Anticipation of Lignite Mining in Lauderdale County, Tennessee

U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 80-54

by William S. Parks

This report is available as a pdf below


Lignite in western Tennessee occurs as lenses or beds at various stratigraphic horizons in the Coastal Plain sediments of Late Cretaceous and Tertiary age. The occurrence of this lignite has been known for many decades, but not until the energy crisis was it considered an important energy resource. In recent years, several energy companies have conducted extensive exploration programs in western Tennessee, and tremendous reserves of lignite have been found.

From available information, Lauderdale County was selected as one of the counties where strip-mining of lignite will most likely occur. Lignite in this county occurs in the Jackson and Cockfield Formations, undivided, of Tertiary age. The hydrology of the county is known only from regional studies and the collection of some site-specific data. Therefore, in anticipation of the future mining of lignite, a plan is needed for obtaining hydrologic and geologic information to adequately define the hydrologic system before mining begins and to monitor the effects of strip-mining once it is begun.

For this planning effort, available hydrologic, geologic, land use, and associated data were located and compiled; a summary description of the surface and shallow subsurface hydrologic system was prepared: the need for additional baseline hydrologic information was outlined; and plans to monitor the effects of strip-mining were proposed. This planning approach, although limited to a county area, has transferability to other Coastal Plain areas under consideration for strip-mining of lignite.

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