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Patriot Coal Mine,WV

On 4 October 2011, Ben Edwards and Marcus Key took 8 Earth Sciences students to a Patriot Coal mine in Fairview, WV. We began with a safety training session where we learned how to use emergency breathing apparat and were suited up in coveralls, heavy booths, hard hats, eye protection and hearing protection. We went down 100' in an elevator, and headed 4.5 miles back on a train car to the working face. The mine is producing bituminous coal from the 8 ft thick Pittsburgh #8 seam. This the thickest of the Pennsylvanian cylcothem coal deposits in the area. We saw a variety of shale partings and layers of pyritic concretions. We visited the loud and dynamic longwall mining working face. As the longwall mining machine moves through the seam, it drops the roof behind it 8 ft which results in a topographic lowering of 2-3 ft at the surface, 1000 ft above. After a company supplied late luncheon, we headed home with a brief stop at the famous Sideling Hill syncline in western Maryland.