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This report describes reconnaissance hydrogeochemical investigations of 22 mining districts on the Western Slope of Colorado in the Gunnison and Uncompahgre National Forests and adjacent public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Sources and fates of contaminants from historic mines, mine waste, and mill tailings are interpreted from chemical analyses for 190 samples of surface waters; 185 samples of mined rocks, mill tailings, and altered rocks; and passive leach analyses of 116 samples of those mineralized materials. Short reaches of several headwater streams show relatively low level effects of historic mining; the headwaters of the Uncompahgre River are highly contaminated by mines and unmined altered rocks in the Red Mountain district. There is encouraging evidence that natural processes attenuate mine-related contamination in most districts.
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Hydrogeochemical Investigations of Historic Mining Districts, Central Western Slope of Colorado, Including Influence on Surface-Water Quality