Hydrous iron and aluminum oxides are deposited on the streambed in the confluence of the Snake River and Deer Creek, two streams in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The Snake River is acidic and has high concentrations of dissolved Fe and Al. These metals precipitate at the confluence with the pristine, neutral pH, Deer Creek because of the greater pH (4.5-6.0) in the confluence. The composition of the deposited oxides changes consistently with distance downstream, with the most upstream oxide samples having the greatest Fe and organic carbon content. Fulvic acid accounts for most of the organic content of the oxides. Results indicate that streambed oxides in the confluence are not saturated with respect to their capacity to sorb dissolved humic substances from streamwater. The contents of several trace metals (Mn, Zn, Cu, Pb, Ni and Co) also decrease with distance downstream and are correlated with both the Fe and organic carbon contents. Strong metal-binding sites associated with the sorbed fulvic acid are more than sufficient to account for the trace metal content of the oxides. Complexation of trace metals by sorbed fulvic acid may explain the observed downstream decrease in trace metal content.
Additional publication details
Humic substances and trace metals associated with Fe and Al oxides deposited in an acidic mountain stream