Stream discharges and concentrations of dissolved and colloidal metals (Al, Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Pb, and Zn), SO4, and dissolved silica were measured to identify chemical transformations and determine mass transports through two mixing zones in the Animas River that receive the inflows from Cement and Mineral Creeks. The creeks were the dominant sources of Al, Cu, Fe, and Pb, whereas the upstream Animas River supplied about half of the Zn. With the exception of Fe, which was present in dissolved and colloidal forms, the metals were dissolved in the acidic, high-SO4 waters of Cement Creek (pH 3.8). Mixing of Cement Creek with the Animas River increased pH to near-neutral values and transformed Al and some additional Fe into colloids which also contained Cu and Pb. Aluminium and Fe colloids had already formed in the mildly acidic conditions in Mineral Creek (pH 6.6) upstream of the confluence with the Animas River. Colloidal Fe continued to form downstream of both mixing zones. The Fe- and Al-rich colloids were important for transport of Cu, Pb, and Zn, which appeared to have sorbed to them. Partitioning of Zn between dissolved and colloidal phases was dependent on pH and colloid concentration. Mass balances showed conservative transports for Ca, Mg, Mn, SO4, and dissolved silica through the two mixing zones and small losses (< 10%) of colloidal Al, Fe and Zn from the water column.
Additional Publication Details
Colloid formation and metal transport through two mixing zones affected by acid mine drainage near Silverton, Colorado