Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mountain Top Removal and Map Stories

This week I worked on a map concerning Mountain Top Removal for coal mining in the Appalachian mountain region. The EPA defines Mountain Top Removal as:

“Mountaintop removal/valley fill is a mining practice where the tops of mountains are removed, exposing the seams of coal. Mountaintop removal can involve removing 500 feet or more of the summit to get at buried seams of coal. The earth from the mountaintop is then dumped in the neighboring valleys.” (ilovemountains).

I used several tools to make this map. The bulk of the work was in creating the Hydrology Dataset from the Mosaic Group Raster Data. There were plenty of steps involved including:

- The Fill tool — This step modifies the raster to prevent water flow from pooling.
- The Flow Direction tool — This process assigns each pixel a value representing the direction of water flow across each cell.
- The Flow Accumulation tool — For each cell in the raster, this tool calculates the total number of other cells that flow into it.
- Calculate 1% of the pixels in the image —  A generally accepted condition is that the Flow Accumulation value must exceed 1% of the total number of pixels in the raster. If more than 1% of the total pixels in the raster flow into an area, it is probably a stream.
- The Con tool — This tool defines the threshold of flow accumulation values that qualify something as a stream
- Stream to Feature — This tool creates polyline vector features from the Con tool output raster

This was a lot of work but I am glad I used all the above tools for the exposure and practice. Below is my basemap.

Another skill I worked on this week was to create a Story Map and a Story Map Journal. The subject for both stories concerned the 6 Stages of Mountain Top Removal:

- Stage 1: Clearing 
- Stage 2: Blasting
- Stage 3: Digging 
- Stage 4: Dumping waste 
- Stage 5: Processing
- Stage 6: Reclamation 

You can find My Story Map at: Mountain Top Removal
I also created a Story Map Journal, but this is still a work in progress. If you would like to take a look at it now, go here: Mountain Top Removal: Streams and Basins

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