Oxygen isotopes of dissolved sulfate as a tool to distinguish natural and mining-related dissolved constituents

Open File Report
By:  and 

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Abstract

Natural and mining-related dissolved-constituent concentrations need to be distinguished in a watershed affected by abandoned mines to prioritize subbasins for remediation and to assist with the establishment
of water-quality standards. The oxygen isotopes of dissolved sulfate can be used to distinguish between natural and mining-related sources of dissolved constituents. Several methods employing the oxygen isotopes of dissolved sulfate can be used to determine the relative amounts of natural and miningrelated dissolved constituents in water: (1) the isotope-dilution equation for simple mixing zones (two
sources and one receiving stream); (2) the isotope mass-balance equation for streams receiving dissolved sulfate from multiple geologic sources; and (3) graphical relations and the mathematical solution of simultaneous equations in a watershed approach. Using the different methods for data collected during low flow, about 71 to 75 percent of the dissolved-constituent concentrations are from natural sources in selected subbasins of the upper Animas watershed.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Oxygen isotopes of dissolved sulfate as a tool to distinguish natural and mining-related dissolved constituents
Series title Open File Report
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher USGS
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 7 p.
First page 671
Last page 678
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