The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Initiative is focused on the evaluation of the effect of past mining practices on the water quality and the riparian and aquatic habitats of impacted stream reaches downstream from historical mining districts located primarily on Federal lands. This problem is manifest in the eleven western states (west of longitude 102 degrees) where the majority of hardrock mines that had past production are located on Federal lands. In areas of temperate climate and moderate to heavy precipitation, the effects of rapid chemical and physical weathering of sulfides exposed on mine-waste dumps and acidic drainage from mines have resulted in elevated metal concentrations in the stream water and stream-bed sediment. The result of these mineral weathering processes has an unquantified impact on the quality of the water and the aquatic and riparian habitats that may limit their recreational resource value. One of the confounding factors in these studies is the determination of the component of metals derived from hydrothermally altered but unmined portions of these drainage basins.
Several watersheds have been studied to evaluate the effects of acid mine drainage and acid rock drainage on the near-surface environment. The Animas River watershed in southwestern Colorado contains a large number of past-producing metal mines that have affected the watershed. Beginning in October 1996, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began a collaborative study of these effects under the USGS-AML Initiative. In this report, we present the radionuclide and geochemical analytical results of sediment coring during 1997-1999 from two cores from oxbow lakes 0.5 mi. upstream from the 32nd Street Bridge near Durango, Colo., and from three cores from beaver ponds within the Mineral Creek drainage basin near Silverton, Colo.
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USGS Numbered Series
Radionuclide Data and Calculations and Loss-On-Ignition, X-Ray Fluorescence, and ICP-AES Data from Cores in Catchments of the Animas River, Colorado