Whitewood Creek, located in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota, has a long history of contamination from mining activity. Gold exploration began in the 1870s, and has continued since that time. Whitewood Creek received direct releases of tailings from 1870 to 1977 from Gold Run Creek in Lead, SD. It has been estimated that approximately 100 million to 1 billion tons of mining, milling, and ore processing wastes have been released by mining activity in the last century in to Whitewood Creek, the Belle Fourche river, and the Cheyenne River (Fox Consultants, Inc. 1984). Tailings deposition has altered the geomorphology of Whitewood Creek, and deposits up to 4.6 m. deep, have become stabilized by vegetation. Several other streams in the Black Hills also have been adversely affected by mining operations (Rahn 1996).
As water leaches through rock strata that are disturbed by surface and subsurface mining, it dissolves inorganic elements and carries them to the groundwater. Groundwater movement through the extensive tailings deposits in the Whitewood Creek valley enter the creek at various seeps along its downstream course to the Belle Fourche river, and the Belle Fourche River itself, which empties into the Cheyenne River and eventually into Lake Oahe.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Trace elements in seep waters along Whitewood Creek, South Dakota, and their toxicity to fathead minnows|
|Series title||Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology|
|Publisher||Springer Berlin Heidelberg|
|Contributing office(s)||Columbia Environmental Research Center|
|Other Geospatial||Whitewood Creek|