AskDefine | Define overburden

Dictionary Definition



1 the surface soil that must be moved away to get at coal seams and mineral deposits
2 an excessive burden [syn: overload]


1 burden with too much work or responsibility
2 load with excessive weight

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The rock and subsoil that lies above a mineral deposit such as a coal seam
  2. A sterile stratum that lies above the stratum being investigated


to overburden



Extensive Definition

Overburden is the term used in mining to describe material that lies above the area of economic interest, e.g., the rock and soil that lies above the coal seam. Also known as 'waste'. Overburden is distinct from tailings, the material that remains after economically valuable components have been extracted from the generally finely milled ore. Overburden is removed during surface mining, but is typically not contaminated with toxic components and may be used to restore a mining site to a semblance of its appearance before mining began. Overburden may also be used as a term to describe all soil and ancillary material above the bedrock horizon in a given area.
A related term is interburden, meaning material that lies between two areas of economic interest, such as the material separating coal seams within strata.
By analogy, overburden is also used to describe the soil and other material that lies above a specific geologic feature, such as a buried astrobleme.


  • Bates, R.L., and Jackson, J.A., (1987) Glossary of geology American Geological Institute, Alexandria, Virginia.
  • Haering, K. C.; Daniels W. L. and Roberts J. A. (1993) "Changes in mine soil properties resulting from overburden weathering" Journal of environmental quality 22(1): pp. 194-200.
  • McFee, W.W.; Byrnes, W.R. and Stockton, J.G. (1981) "Characteristics of coal mine overburden important to plant growth" Journal of environmental quality 10(3): pp. 300-308.
overburden in German: Abraum
overburden in Estonian: Katend

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

bear hard upon, burden, burthen, charge, choke, congest, cram, crowd, cumber, drench, encumber, freight, glut, gluttonize, go hard with, go ill with, gorge, hamper, handicap, jam, jam-pack, lade, lie on, load, oppress, overcharge, overfeed, overfill, overlade, overload, overstuff, overtax, overweigh, overweight, pack, press hard upon, rest hard upon, saddle, satiate, saturate, soak, stuff, supercharge, supersaturate, surcharge, surfeit, tax, try one, weigh down, weigh heavy on, weigh on, weigh upon
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