IGERT Trip to Wyoming: Day 3

Day 3- Friday-Black Thunder Mine, Pictographs and Petrographs

Friday started off with a trip to a massive coal surface mine.  The Powder River basin has many coal mines because of the abundance of organic sulfur.  U.S.A burns approximately 1 billion tons of coal per year according to Black Thunder Mine (BTM).  Some interesting facts that BTM shared is 95% of coal is not mine-able with today’s technology because the coal is too deep.  BTM has about 1.2 billion tons of coal as recoverable reserves and load approximately 23-25 trains per day to ship out coal.  Lastly, the most interesting tidbit is the lengthy reclamation process, which includes letting cattle graze for 5 years to show the environment is sustainable.  Currently only 432 acres is completed, but thousands of acres are in the process of reaching the final stage.

Afterwards we headed back to the Wold Family ranch, where we went on a hike guided by Marla Wold who showed us Pictographs and Petrographs made by Native Americans.