The oxidation of disseminated pyrite in relatively acid schists and gneisses of the Snake River drainage basin provides abundant iron sulfate and sulfuric acid to ground and surface water. This acid water dissolves large quantities of many elements, particularly aluminum and surprisingly large quantities of elements, such as magnesium and zinc, not expected to be abundant in the drainage basin. The adjoining drainage to the west, Deer Creek, is underlain by basic rocks, from which the water inherits a high pH. Despite the presence of base- and precious- metal veins in the drainage basin of Deer Creek, it carries less metal than the Snake River. The principal precipitate on the bed of the Snake River is hydrated iron oxide with small quantities of the other metals. In Deer Creek manganese oxide is precipitated with iron oxide and large quantities of other metals are carried down with this precipitate. Below the junction of these streams the pH stabilizes at a near-neutral value. Iron is removed from the Snake River water at the junction, and aluminum is precipitated for some distance downstream. The aluminum precipitate carries down other metals in concentrations slightly less than that in the manganese precipitate on Deer Creek. The natural processes observed in this junction if carried to a larger scale could provide the mechanism described by Ansheles (1927) for the formation of bauxite. In the environment described, geochemical exploration by either water or stream sediment techniques is difficult because of (1) the extreme pH differential between the streams above their junction and (2) the difference in the precipitates formed on the streambeds. ?? 1963.
Additional publication details
The precipitation of aluminum, iron and manganese at the junction of Deer Creek with the Snake River in Summit County, Colorado