Chemical quality of water in abandoned zinc mines in northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas

Open-File Report 78-294
By: , and 



Onsite measurements of pH, specific conductance, and water temperature show that water temperatures in seven mine shafts in northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas is stratified. With increasing sampling depth, specific conductance and water temperature tend to increase, and pH tends to decrease. Concentrations of dissolved solids and chemical constituents in mine-shaft water, such as total, and dissolved metals and dissolved sulfate also increase with depth. The apparently unstable condition created by cooler, denser water overlying warmer, less-dense water is offset by the greater density of the lower water strata due to higher dissolved solids content.

Correlation analysis showed that several chemical constituents and properties of mine-shaft water, including dissolved solids, total hardness, and dissolved sulfate, calcium, magnesium, and lithium, are linearly related to specific conductance. None of the constituents or properties of mine-shaft water tested had a significant linear relationship to pH. However, when values of dissolved aluminum, zinc, and nickel were transformed to natural or Napierian logarithms, significant linear correlation to pH resulted. 

During the course of the study - September 1975 to June 1977 - the water level in a well penetrating the mine workings rose at an average rate of 1.2 feet per month.  Usually, the rate of water-level rise was greater than average after periods of relatively high rainfall, and lower than average during periods of relatively low rainfall.

Water in the mine shafts is unsuited for most uses without treatment.  The inability of current domestic water treatment practices to remove high concentrations of toxic metals, such as cadmium and lead, precludes use of the water for a public supply.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Chemical quality of water in abandoned zinc mines in northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 78-294
DOI 10.3133/ofr78294
Year Published 1978
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Kansas Water Science Center, Oklahoma Water Science Center
Description x, 67 p.
Country United States
State Kansas, Oklahoma
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