Aquatic resources in Soda Butte Creek within Yellowstone National Park, USA, continue to be threatened by heavy metals from historical mining and milling activities that occurred upstream of the park's boundary. This includes the residue of gold, silver, and copper ore mining and processing in the early 1900s near Cooke City, Montana, just downstream of the creek's headwaters. Toxicity tests, using surrogate test species, and analyses of metals in water, sediments, and macroinvertebrate tissue were conducted from 1993 to 1995. Chronic toxicity to test species was greater in the spring than the fall and metal concentrations were elevated in the spring with copper exceeding water quality criteria in 1995. Tests with amphipods using pore water and whole sediment from the creek and copper concentrations in the tissue of macroinvertebrates and fish also suggest that copper is the metal of concern in the watershed. In order to understand current conditions in Soda Butte Creek, heavy metals, especially copper, must be considered important factors in the aquatic and riparian ecosystems within and along the creek extending into Yellowstone National Park.
Additional publication details
Effects of metal mining and milling on boundary waters of Yellowstone National Park, USA