Groundwater underlying the valley of Pinal Creek downstream from Globe, Arizona, has been contaminated by low-pH metal-enriched wastewater from copper mining and ore processing at Miami, Arizona. At present, the acidity and most of the dissolved metal content, except for Mn, of the wastewater is removed by reactions with carbonate and other solids in the alluvial aquifer before the neutralized contaminated water enters the creek channel and becomes surface flow. Where flow in the creek is perennial, Mn-bearing precipitates are formed in the stream bed and in some places in the subsurface. As an aid to understanding the processes involved and explaining the mineralogy of the precipitates, closely controlled laboratory redox titration experiments were performed on samples of surface flow and groundwater taken near the head of perennial flow in the creek. The high content of dissolved Ca, Mg, Mn and COP2 species in the neutralized contaminated groundwater caused precipitation of some of the Mn as kutnahorite, (Mn, Mg)Ca(CO3)2, when the experimental system was held between pH 8.5 and 9.0 while CO2-free air was bubbled into the solution. Hausmannite and manganite also were precipitated, in somewhat lower amounts. When the concentrations of dissolved CO2 species in the groundwater sample were decreased before the experiment was started, the Mn precipitated was predominantly in the oxides hausmannite and manganite. In some of the experimental titrations clinoenstatite, (MgSiO3), was precipitated. After titrations were stopped the solutions and precipitates were allowed to stand, with limited access to the atmosphere, for several months. During this aging period the degree of oxidation of the precipitated Mn increased and in one precipitate from an experimental solution the Ca + Mn4+ oxides todorokite and takanelite were identified. These oxides also have been identified in streambed precipitates. Some of these precipitates also gave X-ray diffraction reflections for kutnahorite. Thermodynamic feasibilities of eight potential chemical reactions forming solid phases of interest were evaluated by calculating their respective reaction affinities attained during titration and aging. The results are in general agreement with the indications for the presence of these species given by X-ray and electron diffraction. The presence of carbonates in precipitated encrustations formed from groundwater below the land surface and their occurrence in manganese oxide crusts that precipitate from the creek water, also are predicted by these results. ?? 1994.
Additional publication details
Chemistry of manganese precipitation in Pinal Creek, Arizona, USA: A laboratory study