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Landscape geochemistry near mineralized areas of eastern Alaska: Chapter H in Recent U.S. Geological Survey studies in the Tintina Gold Province, Alaska, United States, and Yukon, Canada--results of a 5-year project

Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5289-H

This report is Chapter H in Recent U.S. Geological Survey studies in the Tintina Gold Province, Alaska, United States, and Yukon, Canada--results of a 5-year project. For more information, see: Scientific Investigation Report 2007-5289.
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Abstract

The Pogo lode gold deposit was discovered in eastern Alaska in the early 1990s and provided the opportunity to study elemental distribution and mobility in the natural environment prior to mine development. Studying mineralized systems prior to mining allows us to compare the natural biogeochemical signature in mineralized versus nonmineralized areas. The resultant data and interpretation also provide a baseline for evaluating what, if any, changes in elemental distribution result from development. This report investigates the chemistry of stream water, streambed sediment, and soil in the context of regional bedrock geology. The major-ion chemistry of the waters reflects a rock-dominated aqueous system, and the waters are classified as Ca2+ and Mg2+ - HCO3- to Ca2+ and Mg2+ - SO4-2 waters. Creeks draining the gneissic lithologies tend to be more sulfate dominated than those draining the intrusive units. Sulfate also dominated creeks draining mineralized areas; however, the underlying paragneiss unit could be contributing substantially to the sulfate concentration, and the sulfate concentration in these creeks may reflect a complex baltholith-paragneiss boundary rather than mineralization. Arsenic concentrations in bed sediments were elevated in mineralized areas relative to nonmineralized areas. Elevated concentrations of nickel, chromium, iron, manganese, and cobalt appear to reflect the presence of ultramafic rocks in the drainage. In general, aqueous metal concentrations were below the State of Alaska’s Aquatic Life Criteria and Drinking Water Standards, with the exception of arsenic in stream water, which ranged in concentration from less than 1 to 14 micrograms per liter (μg/L) and exceeded the drinking water standard at one site. The arsenic and antimony concentration in the A, B, and C soil horizons ranged from 3 to 410 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), 6.1 to 440 mg/kg, and 2 to 300 mg/kg, respectively, for arsenic and 0.4 to 24 mg/kg, 0.6 to 25 mg/kg, and 0.2 to 16 mg/kg, respectively, for antimony. The arsenic and antimony concentrations in stream waters correlate well with the concentrations in soils. However, significantly less arsenic and antimony was extracted from C horizon soils in water leaching experiments, indicating that the arsenic and antimony in the C horizon is present in a less available form than in the A or B horizons. Arsenic and antimony uptake by grayleaf willow (Salix glauca L.) appears minimal, with arsenic concentrations ranging from less than 0.01 to 0.14 mg/kg and antimony concentrations ranging from less than 0.003 to 0.23 mg/kg in willow leaves. In general, the highest concentrations of both arsenic and antimony in water and soils were found near mineralized areas. Elevated arsenic concentrations were also found in bed sediments from mineralized areas. In these sample matrices, the presence of arsenic and (or) antimony was a good indicator of contact with mineralized rock units.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Landscape geochemistry near mineralized areas of eastern Alaska: Chapter H in Recent U.S. Geological Survey studies in the Tintina Gold Province, Alaska, United States, and Yukon, Canada--results of a 5-year project
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2007-5289
Chapter:
H
Year Published:
2007
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Eastern Mineral Resources Science Center
Description:
iii, 8 p.
Larger Work Type:
Report
Larger Work Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title:
Recent U.S. Geological Survey studies in the Tintina Gold Province, Alaska, United States, and Yukon, Canada--results of a 5-year project (Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5289)
Country:
Canada;United States
State:
Alaska;Yukon
Other Geospatial:
Tintina Gold Province