Diel behavior of iron and other heavy metals in a mountain stream with acidic to neutral pH: Fisher Creek, Montana, USA

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
By: , and 



Three simultaneous 24-h samplings at three sites over a downstream pH gradient were conducted to examine diel fluctuations in heavy metal concentrations in Fisher Creek, a small mountain stream draining abandoned mine lands in Montana. Average pH values at the upstream (F1), middle (F2), and downstream (F3) monitoring stations were 3.31, 5.46, and 6.80, respectively. The downstream increase in pH resulted in precipitation of hydrous ferric oxide (HFO) and hydrous aluminum oxide (HAO) on the streambed. At F1 and F2, Fe showed strong diel cycles in dissolved concentration and Fe(II)/Fe(III) ratio; these cycles were attributed to daytime photoreduction of Fe(III) to Fe(II), reoxidation of Fe(II) to Fe(III), and temperature-dependent hydrolysis and precipitation of HFO. At the near-neutral downstream station, no evidence of Fe(III) photoreduction was observed, and suspended particles of HFO dominated the total Fe load. HFO precipitation rates between F2 and F3 were highest in the afternoon, due in part to reoxidation of a midday pulse of Fe2+ formed by photoreduction in the upper, acidic portions of the stream. Dissolved concentrations of Fe(II) and Cu decreased tenfold and 2.4-fold, respectively, during the day at F3. These changes were attributed to sorption onto fresh HFO surfaces. Results of surface complexation modeling showed good agreement between observed and predicted Cu concentrations at F3, but only when adsorption enthalpies were added to the thermodynamic database to take into account diel temperature variations. The field and modeling results illustrate that the degree to which trace metals adsorb onto actively forming HFO is strongly temperature dependent. This study is an example of how diel Fe cycles caused by redox and hydrolysis reactions can induce a diel cycle in a trace metal of toxicological importance in downstream waters.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Diel behavior of iron and other heavy metals in a mountain stream with acidic to neutral pH: Fisher Creek, Montana, USA
Series title Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
DOI 10.1016/j.gca.2004.11.020
Volume 69
Issue 10
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 12 p.
First page 2505
Last page 2516
Country United States
State Montana
Other Geospatial Fisher Creek
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