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Recent coal-fire and land-use status of Jharia Coalfield, India from satellite data

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The Jharia Coalfield (JCF) in India is known for its high grade coal and associated coal fires. Before it can be exploited, valuable coal reserves are destroyed in the sub-surface due to fire. The combined act of fire and subsidence has endangered the environmental safety of the JCF, although several methods have been adopted to control the coal fires. Coal fire is a dynamic phenomenon, hence, its location and extent changes with time. To control the coal fires effectively, the status of the fires and the landscape must be assessed periodically. In this study, the thermal band in Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) data (daytime) of 29 March 2003 and Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data (night-time) of 9 October 2006 are used to delineate the coal-fire areas. The kinetic temperature of the coal fire-affected areas is calculated from Landsat-7 ETM+ data using a Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)-derived emissivity model, and from band 13 of ASTER data with a fixed emissivity value. The study showed that the eastern part of the JCF is more affected by coal fires than the western part. The affected collieries in the eastern part are Kusunda, Lodna, Bararee, Gonudih and Ena. Among all collieries, Kusunda is the most affected by coal fires (29% of the area) and showed a 0.56 km2 increase in fire area from the year 2003 to 2006. During this period, a total increase in coal-fire area of 0.51 km2 occurs in the JCF. The land-use map prepared from Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellite-P6 Linear Imaging Self-scanning Sensor (LISS)-III data showed that 6.9% of the area in the JCF is occupied by mining-related activities, which indicates its vulnerability to environmental degradation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Geosciences Division, National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Balanagar, Hyderabad, India 2: Environment Department, Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. (BCCL), Koyla Nagar, Dhanbad, India

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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