The Ruth Mine and mill are located in the western Mojave Desert in Inyo County, California (fig. 1). The mill processed gold-silver (Au-Ag) ores mined from the Ruth Au-Ag deposit, which is adjacent to the mill site. The Ruth Au-Ag deposit is hosted in Mesozoic intrusive rocks and is similar to other Au-Ag deposits in the western Mojave Desert that are associated with Miocene volcanic centers that formed on a basement of Mesozoic granitic rocks (Bateman, 1907; Gardner, 1954; Rytuba, 1996). The volcanic rocks consist of silicic domes and associated flows, pyroclastic rocks, and subvolcanic intrusions (fig. 2) that were emplaced into Mesozoic silicic intrusive rocks (Troxel and Morton, 1962). The Ruth Mine is on Federal land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Tailings from the mine have been eroded and transported downstream into Homewood Canyon and then into Searles Valley (figs. 3, 4, 5, and 6). The BLM provided recreational facilities at the mine site for day-use hikers and restored and maintained the original mine buildings in collaboration with local citizen groups for use by visitors (fig. 7). The BLM requested that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with Chapman University, measure arsenic (As) and other geochemical constituents in soils and tailings at the mine site and in stream sediments downstream from the mine in Homewood Canyon and in Searles Valley (fig. 3). The request was made because initial sampling of the site by BLM staff indicated high concentrations of As in tailings and soils adjacent to the Ruth Mine. This report summarizes data obtained from field sampling of mine tailings and soils adjacent to the Ruth Mine and stream sediments downstream from the mine on June 7, 2009. Our results permit a preliminary assessment of the sources of As and associated chemical constituents that could potentially impact humans and biota.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Review of samples of tailings, soils and stream sediment adjacent to and downstream from the Ruth Mine, Inyo County, California
U.S. Geological Survey
Western Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center