The last decade has witnessed a plethora of research related to the hydrogeochemistry and microbiology of acid mine waters and associated tailings and waste-rock waters. Numerous books, reviews, technical papers, and proceedings have been published that examine the complex bio-geochemical process of sulfide mineral oxidation, develop and apply geochemical models to site characterization, and characterize the microbial ecology of these environments. This review summarizes many of these recent works, and provides references for those investigating this field. Comparisons of measured versus calculated Eh and measured versus calculated pH for water samples from several field sites demonstrate the reliability of some current geochemical models for aqueous speciation and mass balances. Geochemical models are not, however, used to predict accurately time-dependent processes but to improve our understanding of these systems and to constrain possible processes that contribute to actual or potential water quality issues. Microbiological studies are demonstrating that there is much we have yet to learn about the types of different microorganisms and their function and ecology in mine-waste environments. A broad diversity of green algae, bacteria, archaea, yeasts, and fungi are encountered in acid mine waters, and a better understanding of their ecology and function may potentially enhance remediation possibilities as well as our understanding of the evolution of life.
Additional publication details
Advances in the hydrogeochemistry and microbiology of acid mine waters