ARIES Research Areas

ARIES Emphasis Area A
Stream Protection and Restoration

ARIES emphasis area A focuses on determining the relative effects mining disturbance on water quality, habitat quality and benthic macro-invertebrates in headwater streams, and on higher organisms (e.g. mollusks and fish) in lower reaches of receiving streams and the overall watershed, as well as on the means to prevent or mitigate the impacts. This area also includes evaluation of the influence of geology, seasonal and diurnal variability patterns and land use/disturbance effects. Research in this area also addresses ecosystem services and systems to measure ecosystem health, both before, during and after mining activity. Finally, research in this area focuses on stream restoration techniques and habitat restoration.

ARIES Emphasis Area B
Materials Characterization and Handling

The goals of this research area are to optimize identification, handling and placement of mine spoils that may potentially contribute to degraded water quality.  Historically, the Appalachian coal industry has been highly successful in developing technologies to identify, handle, treat and isolate potentially acid forming spoil materials at coal mines in the region. One objective of this research  is to develop new methods for characterizing and predicting constituent release potentials from coal overburden and refuse materials. Secondary objectives include the development of scaling factors to relate laboratory and field screening results to field conditions and corroboration of those predictions with actual field data sets. Innovative methods for surface mine spoil handling and designs for spoil placement and fills will be developed, tested and validated to minimize both short- and long-term release of various constituents, particularly TDS and selenium.

ARIES Emphasis Area C 
Water Impacts of Underground Coal Mining

Underground coal mining operations have the potential to impact both surface water and groundwater resources through physical and chemical changes to the environment.  The focus of this area will be to develop and identify design features and practices that can substantially reduce environmental impacts to achieve “low impact” underground coal mining.

ARIES Emphasis Area D
Evaluating Impacts and Optimizing Contributions of Mining to Community Well-Being

Coal mining operations have the potential to positively or negatively impact community health and well-being in many ways. These impacts can be categorized into economic, sociologic, public health, and cultural impacts. The primary focus of this area is on identifying the possible public health impacts of coal mining operations.  Additionally, a number of studies under this area focus on research questions about what constitutes community well-being and how coal mining has impacted it, with the goal of identifying the actions that the coal industry, government and society should take to minimize the negative impacts and enhance the positive contributions.