Landscape volumetrics and visualizations of the Butte mining district, Montana

Patrick Kennelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The topography of the Butte Mining District, Montana, has been extensively altered by placer, underground, and open-pit mining since 1864. The earliest known large-scale topographic mapping showing the Butte area was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1895 and published in 1897. In 1903, the map coverage was extended several miles east and west, cultural features were revised where necessary, and the map was published in 1904. The most detailed elevation mapping was produced with photogrammetric techniques in 1989 and 1991 by Horizon, Inc. This study uses these two sets of topographic data to measure and visualize volumetric changes of the landscape. Patterns of change associated with the relatively small volume of material filling Butte's Missoula Gulch and earthworks for highway construction unrelated to mining closely match expected locations, patterns, and thicknesses. The model also estimates the area and allows for visualization of large areas of altered landscape, such as the Berkeley openpit copper mine and the Yankee Doodle tailings dam. This model provides a visual overview and first-pass assessment tool for an area with multiple environmental concerns, including groundwater and soil contamination, leaching of metals from mine tailings and waste rock, and associated impacts on surface water from runoff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental and Engineering Geoscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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