Geochemistry of the processes that attenuate acid mine drainage in wetlands

Edited by: Geoffrey S. Plumlee and M.J. Logsdon



Because conventional treatment of acid-mine drainage (AMD) involves installation and maintenance of water treatment plants, regulators and mine operators have sought lower cost and lower maintenance technologies. One ecological engineering technology that has received increasing research attention is the use of natural and constructed wetlands for remediation of some of the water-quality problems associated with AMD. As surface water flows through a wetland, several processes can occur to decrease the elevated concentrations of sulfate, trace metals, arsenic, and hydrogen ions that characterize AMD. These processes range from precipitation of mineral phases to the active uptake of solutes by vegetation. The relative importance of these processes between different wetlands depends on the hydrologic and geochemical characteristics of the wetlands. This paper describes the geochemistry of the processes that contribute to AMD attenuation in wetlands and presents some of the case studies that have identified these processes. The attenuation of AMD in wetlands has been studied in natural and in man- made (constructed) wetlands. In this paper, case studies of both are presented. A discussion of some of the general characteristics of wetlands is followed by more detailed discussions of the processes and geochemistry that contribute to the treatment of AMD in wetlands, relevant case studies, and a brief discussion of constructed wetland design. The physical, chemical, and hydrologic characteristics of a wetland that affect its potential for supporting specific types of reactions are also emphasized.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Geochemistry of the processes that attenuate acid mine drainage in wetlands
DOI 10.5382/Rev.06.10
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher Society of Economic Geologists
Publisher location Littleton, Colorado
Contributing office(s) Colorado Water Science Center, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 14 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title The environmental geochemistry of mineral deposits, part a: Processes, technique, and health issues
First page 215
Last page 228
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