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By Ralph Derickson


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“This work is a significant accomplishment for Kentucky and the USGS. The digital maps provide valuable information that is accurate, unbiased, and current to decision makers in government and industry.”

--Bonnie McGregor, USGS Eastern Regional Director

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Dec. 11, 2000 – (Lexington, Ky.) – The Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) at the University of Kentucky today released the Kentucky digital coal atlas consisting of 12 maps and charts showing original and remaining coal resources in eastern and western Kentucky for six historically important coals.

Nine of the new maps and charts pertain to resources in eastern Kentucky and three show resources in western Kentucky. Additional maps for western Kentucky will be published in the future. The atlas is unique because it was produced using state-of-the-art computer technology for creating digital geologic maps and very detailed information about coal resources in Kentucky. The atlas will be available as computer files on a CD-ROM or as traditional paper maps.

The detailed assessment of coal resources required for the completion of the new maps and charts has been under way since 1996 with partial funding from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as part of a national program to assess remaining coal resources available for mining.

“This work is a significant accomplishment for Kentucky and the USGS,” said Bonnie McGregor, USGS Eastern Regional Director.” “The digital maps provide valuable information that is accurate, unbiased, and current to decision makers in government and industry,” said McGregor. This project exemplifies the positive outcome that can arise from federal-state cooperation.

“We are proud that Kentucky is one of the first states to complete such a comprehensive digital coal atlas,” said State Geologist James Cobb. KGS has been a national leader in the assessment of coal resources and the creation of digital geologic maps.

Cobb and Gerald Weisenfluh, the KGS geologist who coordinated the project, said that information and analysis in the digital coal atlas indicate that geographic shifts in coal production may occur in the foreseeable future. The 12 maps and charts show the degree of depletion of resources, the extent of the remaining coal available for future mining, and thickness and elevation of the coal, which will be useful to the coal industry as it produces coal from the remaining Kentucky reserves.

“The coal atlas will be valuable to the coal industry and for all residents and businesses in Kentucky who rely on future reserves of coal for the generation of electricity and continued economic development stimulated by coal mining,” Cobb said.  “Kentucky has the third lowest electricity rates in the nation and virtually all of Kentucky’s electricity is produced from coal,” he said.

 “The digital coal atlas will be essential for energy policy makers; coal companies active in exploration; and environmental, land-use, and transportation planners,” Weisenfluh added.

Weisenfluh explained that the atlas will be useful to energy policy makers by providing a regional overview of the status and location of Kentucky’s coal resources to determine areas of future coal development.  The maps will permit transportation planners to make preliminary assessments of the impact of abandoned mines and the cost of acquiring minerals in rights-of-way on construction projects.  Information on the extent and depth of coal mines in specific areas also will be valuable to study the impacts of underground mining on land use.

Other charts in the coal atlas have information about mining characteristics and coal quality, which will be useful for mine safety and environmental planning. The paper copies are available for a nominal charge of $10 each. Anyone interested in the digital coal-bed data used to compile the maps can purchase data sets on a single CD-ROM for $30.

The coal atlas can be viewed at the KGS web site --

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