Geochemical data for samples of overburden from three mines in the Powder River Basin indicate a statistically significant (0.01 confidence level) positive correlation (r = 0.74) between Se and organic C. Results of factor analysis with varimax rotation on the major and trace element data from the rock samples indicate large (>50) varimax loadings for Se in two of the three factors. In Factor 1, the association of Se with constituents common to detrital grains indicates that water transporting the detrital particles into the Powder River Basin also carried dissolved Se. The large (>50) varimax loadings of Se and organic C in Factor 2 probably are due to the organic affinities characteristic of Se. Dissolved Se concentrations in water samples collected at one coal mine are directly related to the dissolved organic C concentrations. Hydrophilic acid concentrations in the water samples from the mine ranged from 35 to 43% of the total dissolved organic C, and hydrophobic acid concentrations ranged from 40 to 49% of the total dissolved organic C. The largest dissolved organic C concentrations in water from the same mine (34-302 mg/l), coupled with the large proportion of acidic components, may saturate adsorption sites on geothite and similar minerals that comprise the aquifer material, thus decreasing the extent of selenite (SeO32-) adsorption as a sink for Se as the redox state of ground water decreases. ?? 1989.
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Geochemical processes controlling selenium in ground water after mining, Powder River Basin, Wyoming, U.S.A.