World of Change: Mountaintop Mining in West Virginia

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Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory.

Video design and production by STScI
Text by STScI, based on stories from the NASA Earth Observatory:
Music courtesy of APM

A large expanse of green trees. A red dot over Virginia on a world map. Text, Mountaintop Mining, West Virginia. World of Change, 1984-2015. To access coal below the densely forested slopes of Southern West Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, mining companies engineer large surface mines.
Hobet 21 Surface Mine. This series of natural-color images, based on data from a NASA satellite, documents the growth of one surface line in Boone County, West Virginia, as it moves from ridge to ridge.
1984. The natural landscape of the area is dark green forested mountains, creased by streams and hollows.
The active mining areas appear off-white, while areas being reclaimed with vegetation appear light green.
Active mining shifts to the left from 1986, 1988, 1991.
It shifts up in 1992 and again in 1995 and 1996.
It then expands down and to the left in 1998, 2000.
Active mining increases in 2002. The initial area continues to change shape and expand in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015.