Mining-impacted streams have been shown to undergo diel (24-h) fluctuations in concentrations of major and trace elements. Fisher Creek in south-central Montana, USA receives acid rock drainage (ARD) from natural and mining-related sources. A previous diel field study found substantial changes in dissolved metal concentrations at three sites with differing pH regimes during a 24-h period in August 2002. The current work discusses follow-up field sampling of Fisher Creek as well as field and laboratory experiments that examine in greater detail the underlying processes involved in the observed diel concentration changes. The field experiments employed in-stream chambers that were either transparent or opaque to light, filled with stream water and sediment (cobbles coated with hydrous Fe and Al oxides), and placed in the stream to maintain the same temperature. Three sets of laboratory experiments were performed: (1) equilibration of a Cu(II) and Zn(II) containing solution with Fisher Creek stream sediment at pH 6.9 and different temperatures; (2) titration of Fisher Creek water from pH 3.1 to 7 under four different isothermal conditions; and (3) analysis of the effects of temperature on the interaction of an Fe(II) containing solution with Fisher Creek stream sediment under non-oxidizing conditions. Results of these studies are consistent with a model in which Cu, Fe(II), and to a lesser extent Zn, are adsorbed or co-precipitated with hydrous Fe and Al oxides as the pH of Fisher Creek increases from 5.3 to 7.0. The extent of metal attenuation is strongly temperature-dependent, being more pronounced in warm vs. cold water. Furthermore, the sorption/co-precipitation process is shown to be irreversible; once the Cu, Zn, and Fe(II) are removed from solution in warm water, a decrease in temperature does not release the metals back to the water column. ?? 2006 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Additional publication details
Role of hydrous iron oxide formation in attenuation and diel cycling of dissolved trace metals in a stream affected by acid rock drainage