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Use of short-term (5-Minute) and long-term (18-Hour) leaching tests to characterize, fingerprint, and rank mine-waste material from historical mines in the Deer Creek, Snake River, and Clear Creek Watersheds in and around the Montezuma Mining District, Colorado

Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5104

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Abstract

Precipitation-induced runoff from historical mine-waste located adjacent to the headwaters of the Snake River, Deer Creek, Saints John Creek, Grizzly Gulch, Stevens Gulch, and Leavenworth Creek contributes to the degradation of water quality in these streams. Because historical mine-waste piles have had long-term exposure to the atmosphere, it is surmised that runoff from these piles, induced by meteorological events such as cloudbursts and snowmelt, may cause mobility of acid and metals into a watershed due to dissolution of soluble minerals. For this study, 13 mine-waste composite samples from various mine-wastes in these drainage basins were leached using both a short-term and a long-term leach test. Analytical results from this combination of leach tests are tools that allow the investigator to quantify (fingerprint) which geochemical components could be expected in runoff from these piles if they were leached by a cloudburst (5-minute leach test), as well as what the ?worst-case? geochemical profile would look like if the material were subject to extended leaching and breakdown of the mine-waste material (18-hour leach test). Also, this combination of leach tests allows the geoscientist the ability to see geochemical changes in the mine-waste leachate over time. That is, does the leachate become more or less acidic over time; does the specific conductance increase or decrease; and are there changes in the concentrations of major or trace elements? Further, use of a ranking scheme described herein will aid in prediction of which historical mine-waste piles have the greatest potential for impact on a watershed should runoff occur. Because of long-term weathering of these historical mine-waste piles, geochemical profiles, leachate time-trends, and relative ranking of the mine-wastes produced from analysis of the leachates are Hageman_SIR_2508.doc 1 7/21/2004 2:50 PM indicative of how the mine-waste piles can be expected to act in the environment and may help to identify the ?bad actors??this may aid in understanding the reasons for water-quality differences between the drainages.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Use of short-term (5-Minute) and long-term (18-Hour) leaching tests to characterize, fingerprint, and rank mine-waste material from historical mines in the Deer Creek, Snake River, and Clear Creek Watersheds in and around the Montezuma Mining District, Colorado
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2004-5104
Edition:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
2004
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
26 p., map