Historical mining has left complex problems in catchments throughout the world. Land managers are faced with making cost-effective plans to remediate mine influences. Remediation plans are facilitated by spatial mass-loading profiles that indicate the locations of metal mass-loading, seasonal changes, and the extent of biogeochemical processes. Field-scale experiments during both low- and high-flow conditions and time-series data over diel cycles illustrate how this can be accomplished. A low-flow experiment provided spatially detailed loading profiles to indicate where loading occurred. For example, SO42 - was principally derived from sources upstream from the study reach, but three principal locations also were important for SO42 - loading within the reach. During high-flow conditions, Lagrangian sampling provided data to interpret seasonal changes and indicated locations where snowmelt runoff flushed metals to the stream. Comparison of metal concentrations between the low- and high-flow experiments indicated substantial increases in metal loading at high flow, but little change in metal concentrations, showing that toxicity at the most downstream sampling site was not substantially greater during snowmelt runoff. During high-flow conditions, a detailed temporal sampling at fixed sites indicated that Zn concentration more than doubled during the diel cycle. Monitoring programs must account for diel variation to provide meaningful results. Mass-loading studies during different flow conditions and detailed time-series over diel cycles provide useful scientific support for stream management decisions.
Additional publication details
An approach to quantify sources, seasonal change, and biogeochemical processes affecting metal loading in streams: Facilitating decisions for remediation of mine drainage