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Effects of land use and surficial geology on flow and water quality of streams in the coal-mining region of southwestern Indiana, October 1979 through September 1980

Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4234

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Abstract

Assessment was done during stable stream flows to provide baseline hydrologic and water quality information and to document the effect of several natural and human induced factors on water quality in the region. The pH of streams draining forested, agricultural, and reclaimed mined watersheds ranged from 6.3 to 8.8, which is generally within the range of natural waters. The pH of streams draining unreclaimed mined watersheds ranged from 3.8 to 7.9, which was much more variable than for streams draining lands used for other activities. Concentrations of major dissolved constituents in streams affected by coal mining were significantly higher than in streams unaffected by mining. The principal cause of the elevated concentrations of dissolved constituents was the oxidation of pyrite and marcasite and subsequent dissolution of calcite and dolomite. Concentrations of boron, iron, manganese, nickel, and zinc were generally higher in streams draining mined areas than in streams draining forested and agricultural watersheds. Concentrations of aluminum, iron, manganese, nickel, and zinc increased significantly as pH decreased below 6.0 in streams draining unreclaimed mined watersheds. The elevated concentrations of metals in waters and the low pH result from the oxidation of the sulfide in pyrite to sulfate, which releases dissolved ferrous iron, other metals, and acidity into the water. Median suspended sediment concentrations of samples from streams draining agricultural and mined watersheds were 1.5 and 5.4 times those of streams draining forested watersheds. In general, pH and concentrations of alkalinity and calcium were significantly higher in streams draining the Wisconsin glacial province than in streams draining the Illinoian glacial province and unglaciated regions. Median concentrations of arsenic, lead, and manganese for streams draining the Wisconsin glacial province were significantly lower than for those constituents in streams draining the Illinoian province and unglaciated region. The median cadmium concentration for streams draining the Wisconsin glacial province was lower than for streams draining the unglaciated region. (Lantz-PTT)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Effects of land use and surficial geology on flow and water quality of streams in the coal-mining region of southwestern Indiana, October 1979 through September 1980
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
85-4234
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1985
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
vi, 49 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.