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The Effect of mining and related activities on the sediment-trace element geochemistry of Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, U.S.A.; Part II, Subsurface sediments

Open-File Report 93-656

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Abstract

During the summer of 1990, 12 gravity cores were collected in Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, at various depths and in a variety of depositional environments. All core subsamples were analyzed to determine bulk chemistry and selected subsamples were analyzed for trace-element partitioning and (137)Cs activity. The purpose of these analyses was to determine the trace-element concentrations and distributions in the sediment column and to try to establish a trace-element geochemical history of the lake in relation to mining and mining-related discharge operations in the area. Substantial portions of the near-surface sediments in Lake Coeur d'Alene are markedly enriched in Ag, As, Cd, Hg, Pb, Sb, and Zn, and somewhat enriched in Cu, Fe, and Mn. Variations in the thickness of the trace element- rich sediments suggest that the source of much of this material is the Coeur d'Alene River. Calculated estimates indicate that there are some 75 million metric tons of trace element-rich sediments currently on/in the lakebed. Estimated trace-element masses in excess of those caused by non-mining-related sources, range from a high of 468,000 metric tons of Pb to a low of 260 metric tons of Hg. The similarity between the trace element-rich surface and subsurface sediments as regards their: (1) location; (2) bulk chemistry; (3) interelement relationships; and (4) trace-element partitioning indicate that the sources and/or concentrating mechanisms causing the trace-element enrichment in the lake probably have been the same throughout their depositional history. Based on Mt. St. Helens' ash layer from the 1980 eruption, ages estimated from (137)Cs activity, and the presence of 80 discernible and presumably annual layers in a core collected near the Coeur d'Alene River delta, it appears that deposition rates for the trace element-rich sediments varied from 2.1 to 1.3 cm/yr. These data also indicate that the deposition of trace element-rich sediments began, at least in the Coeur d'Alene River delta, sometime between 1895 and 1910, dates consistent with the onset of mining and ore-processing activities in the area which began in the 1880's.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
The Effect of mining and related activities on the sediment-trace element geochemistry of Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, U.S.A.; Part II, Subsurface sediments
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
93-656
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1993
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
Description:
iv, 28 p. :ill. ;28 cm.