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Mineral saturation states in natural waters and their sensitivity to thermodynamic and analytical errors

Science Geological Bulletin
By:  and 

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Abstract

Saturation indices computed with WATEQ4F chemical analyses from a groundwater in crystalline bedrock and a surface water receiving acid mine drainage are frequently at or above saturation with respect to calcite, fluorite, barite, gibbsite and ferrihydrite. Deep granitic groundwaters from Stripa, Sweden, are supersaturated with respect to calcite and fluorite. Acid mine waters from the Leviathan Mine drainage basin in California are supersaturated with respect to barite by about a factor of three. These mine waters also are 10 times supersaturated with respect to the most soluble form of ferric hydroxide but are near saturation with respect to microcrystalline gibbsite. A sensitivity analysis has been performed by varying the analytic and thermodynamic parameters for which the saturation indices are most sensitive. For calcite, fluorite and barite, the supersaturation effect appears to be real because it is only slightly decreased by sources of uncertainty. Apparent supersaturation for gibbsite is most likely caused by the degree of crystallinity on solubility behavior. Apparent supersaturation for ferric hydroxide is likely caused by small colloidal particles (< 0.1 µm) in the water sample that cannot be removed by standard field filtration, although several other possible explanations cannot be easily excluded.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Mineral saturation states in natural waters and their sensitivity to thermodynamic and analytical errors
Series title Science Geological Bulletin
Volume 42
Year Published 1989
Language English
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 12 p.
First page 269
Last page 280