Kinetics of selenium release in mine waste from the Meade Peak Phosphatic Shale, Phosphoria Formation, Wooley Valley, Idaho, USA

Chemical Geology
By:  and 



Phosphorite from the Meade Peak Phosphatic Shale member of the Permian Phosphoria Formation has been mined in southeastern Idaho since 1906. Dumps of waste rock from mining operations contain high concentrations of Se which readily leach into nearby streams and wetlands. While the most common mineralogical residence of Se in the phosphatic shale is elemental Se, Se(0), Se is also an integral component of sulfide phases (pyrite, sphalerite and vaesite–pyritess) in the waste rock. It may also be present as adsorbed selenate and/or selenite, and FeSe2 and organo-selenides.

Se release from the waste rock has been observed in field and laboratory experiments. Release rates calculated from waste rock dump and column leachate solutions describe the net, overall Se release from all of the possible sources of Se listed above. In field studies, Se concentration in seepage water (pH 7.4–7.8) from the Wooley Valley Unit 4 dump ranges from 3600 µg/L in May to 10 µg/L by Sept. Surface water flow, Q, from the seep also declines over the summer, from 2 L/s in May to 0.03 L/s in Sept. Se flux ([Se] ⁎ Q) reaches a steady-state of < 150 mg/day in 1–4 months, depending upon the volume of Q. Se release (mg/L) follows a first order reaction with a rate constant, k, = 1.35 – 6.35e−3 h− 1 (11.8–55.6 yr− 1).

Laboratory experiments were performed with the waste shale in packed bed reactors; residence time varied from 0.09 to 400 h and outlet pH ∼ 7.5. Here, Se concentration increased with increasing residence time and release was modeled with a first order reaction with = 2.19e−3 h− 1 (19.2 yr− 1).

Rate constants reported here fall within an order of magnitude of reported rate constants for oxidation of Se(0) formed by bacterial precipitation. This similarity among rate constants from both field and laboratory studies combined with the direct observation of Se(0) in waste shales of the Phosphoria Formation suggests that oxidation of Se(0) may control steady-state Se concentration in water draining the Wooley Valley waste dump.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Kinetics of selenium release in mine waste from the Meade Peak Phosphatic Shale, Phosphoria Formation, Wooley Valley, Idaho, USA
Series title Chemical Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2009.10.011
Volume 269
Issue 1-2
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Western Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 113
Last page 123
Country United States
State Idaho
Other Geospatial Wooley Valley
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details