Quantification of mine-drainage inflows to Little Cottonwood Creek, Utah, using a tracer-injection and synoptic-sampling study

Environmental Geology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Historic mining in Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah has left behind many mine drainage tunnels that discharge water to Little Cottonwood Creek. To quantify the major sources of mine drainage to the stream, synoptic sampling was conducted during a tracer injection under low flow conditions (September 1998). There were distinct increases in discharge downstream from mine drainage and major tributary inflows that represented the total surface and subsurface contributions. The chemistry of stream water determined from synoptic sampling was controlled by the weathering of carbonate rocks and mine drainage inflows. Buffering by carbonate rocks maintained a high pH throughout the study reach. Most of the metal loading was from four surface-water inflows and three subsurface inflows. The main subsurface inflow was from a mine pool in the Wasatch Tunnel. Natural attenuation of all the metals resulted in the formation of colloidal solids, sorption of some metals, and accumulation onto the streambed. The deposition on the streambed could contribute to chronic toxicity for aquatic organisms. Information from the study will help to make decisions about environmental restoration.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Quantification of mine-drainage inflows to Little Cottonwood Creek, Utah, using a tracer-injection and synoptic-sampling study
Series title Environmental Geology
DOI 10.1007/s002540100320
Volume 40
Issue 11
Year Published 2001
Language English
Publisher Springer-Verlag
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 15 p.
First page 1390
Last page 1404
Country United States
State Utah
Other Geospatial Cottonwood creek
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