The influence of hydrous Mn–Zn oxides on diel cycling of Zn in an alkaline stream draining abandoned mine lands

Applied Geochemistry
By: , and 



Many mining-impacted streams in western Montana with pH near or above neutrality display large (up to 500%) diel cycles in dissolved Zn concentrations. The streams in question typically contain boulders coated with a thin biofilm, as well as black mineral crusts composed of hydrous Mn–Zn oxides. Laboratory mesocosm experiments simulating diel behavior in High Ore Creek (one of the Montana streams with particularly high Zn concentrations) show that the Zn cycles are not caused by 24-h changes in streamflow or hyporheic exchange, but rather to reversible in-stream processes that are driven by the solar cycle and its attendant influence on pH and water temperature (T). Laboratory experiments using natural Mn–Zn precipitates from the creek show that the mobilities of Zn and Mn increase nearly an order of magnitude for each unit decrease in pH, and decrease 2.4-fold for an increase in T from 5 to 20 °C. The response of dissolved metal concentration to small changes in either pH or T was rapid and reversible, and dissolved Zn concentrations were roughly an order of magnitude higher than Mn. These observations are best explained by sorption of Zn2+ and Mn2+ onto the secondary Mn–Zn oxide surfaces. From the T-dependence of residual metal concentrations in solution, approximate adsorption enthalpies of +50 kJ/mol (Zn) and +46 kJ/mol (Mn) were obtained, which are within the range of enthalpy values reported in the literature for sorption of divalent metal cations onto hydrous metal oxides. Using the derived pH- and T-dependencies from the experiments, good agreement is shown between predicted and observed diel Zn cycles for several historical data sets collected from High Ore Creek.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The influence of hydrous Mn–Zn oxides on diel cycling of Zn in an alkaline stream draining abandoned mine lands
Series title Applied Geochemistry
DOI 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2005.11.004
Volume 21
Issue 3
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 16 p.
First page 476
Last page 491