Yay! We’ve got a new toy here at the lab! We’ve received a Google Earth Builder license! We’re excited because it will allow us to publish huge data sets that we were never able to publish before.
The first thing we’ve decided to publish is a historic map of the cumulative impact of mountain top removal (MTR) coal-mining activity. This is part of an analysis we published in 2009 in partnership with Appalachian Voices using satellite images. That data set illustrates the extent of mining activity in 58 counties throughout Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia. It specifically illustrates the increase in both mountain top removal mining and conventional surface strip mining from 1976 to 2005.
I’m currently working on creating map layers to be published in Google Earth, revealing the extent of mountain top removal mining operations (mining cuts and valley fills) over these years. Google will publish this data set as a featured project in September. Until then, you can interact with the map layers in Google Maps. Toggle “Satellite” and zoom way in to see the mining operations in detail. For most of West Virginia, the imagery shown in Google Maps is actually high-resolution aerial survey photography that was shot last summer. Try turning the mining layers on and off too: