Article

Negative pH, efflorescent mineralogy, and consequences for environmental restoration at the Iron Mountain Superfund site, California

United States Geological Survey, 3215 Marine Street, Boulder, CO 80303-1066, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 04/1999; 96(7):3455-62. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.96.7.3455
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The Richmond Mine of the Iron Mountain copper deposit contains some of the most acid mine waters ever reported. Values of pH have been measured as low as -3.6, combined metal concentrations as high as 200 g/liter, and sulfate concentrations as high as 760 g/liter. Copious quantities of soluble metal sulfate salts such as melanterite, chalcanthite, coquimbite, rhomboclase, voltaite, copiapite, and halotrichite have been identified, and some of these are forming from negative-pH mine waters. Geochemical calculations show that, under a mine-plugging remediation scenario, these salts would dissolve and the resultant 600,000-m3 mine pool would have a pH of 1 or less and contain several grams of dissolved metals per liter, much like the current portal effluent water. In the absence of plugging or other at-source control, current weathering rates indicate that the portal effluent will continue for approximately 3, 000 years. Other remedial actions have greatly reduced metal loads into downstream drainages and the Sacramento River, primarily by capturing the major acidic discharges and routing them to a lime neutralization plant. Incorporation of geochemical modeling and mineralogical expertise into the decision-making process for remediation can save time, save money, and reduce the likelihood of deleterious consequences.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
78 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The capacity of nanosized particles to adsorb and sequester dissolved metals can be significantly impacted by the mechanism and extent of aggregation the particles have undergone, which in turn can affect the long-term fate and transport of potentially toxic metals in natural aqueous systems. Suspensions of monodisperse nanoscale iron oxyhydroxides were synthesized and subjected to increased pH (pH 8.0, 10.0) or ionic strength (0.1, 1.0 M NaNO3) conditions to induce various states of aggregation prior to conducting macroscopic adsorption/desorption experiments with dissolved Cu(II) or Zn(II). The metal adsorption and retention capacities of the nanoparticle aggregates were compared to one another and to non-aggregated control nanoparticles, while the mode(s) of metal sorption to the nanoparticle surfaces were characterized by extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy analysis. With increasing aggregation by both pH and ionic strength, the proportion of introduced zinc adsorbed to the iron oxyhydroxide nanoparticles progressively decreased from 45% on the monodispersed control particles to as low as 16% on the aggregates, while the proportion of introduced zinc retained upon desorption (obtained by lowering the suspension pH) increased from 7% on the control particles to as much as 17% on the aggregated particles. Copper exhibited a subtler trend of only slightly declining uptake (from 43% to 36%) and retention (from 35% to 30%) with increasing aggregation state. EXAFS analysis was consistent with the macroscopic results, showing relatively little change in Cu speciation between samples analyzed before and after the desorption step but significant increases in Zn–Fe interatomic distances and coordination numbers after desorption. This suggests the presence of both strongly- and weakly-bound zinc ions; the latter are likely affiliated with less stable, more distorted surface sorption sites and are thus more readily desorbed, resulting in the retention of zinc that is bound to more stable, less-distorted sorption sites. For both metals, inner-sphere bidentate sorption appears to dominate the sorption process to the nanoparticle aggregates, with potential structural incorporation into the aggregates themselves.
    Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 01/2015; 148:100-112. DOI:10.1016/j.gca.2014.08.029 · 4.25 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The pH values of most natural, river, and lake waters are in the range of 6–9. There are natural and an- thropogenic sources that may influence the acidification of surface inland waters. The former depend on geological, geochemical, biological, and climatic factors. Since the 1960s, the problem of lake and river acidification has mostly been related to anthropogenic emissions of chemical compounds that have contrib- uted to acidification either through acid deposition (SO2, NOx) or via terrestrial chemical transformations leading to H+ production (NH3/NH4+). This entry presents a brief history of the problem of river and lake acidification. Moreover, it also focuses on the sources of this phenomenon with examples of natural and hu- man-induced changes in freshwater pH. The environmental impact of acidification on surface inland waters is also described with a brief discussion on possible solutions to this issue.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The present and past mining activity left several abandoned tailings and dams in the Panasqueira tin-tungsten mining area. Seasonal water samples and stream sediments were collected during two different periods (rainy and dry seasons) and analyzed for a wide range of major and trace elements, in order to define the present hydrochemical situation. Rain waters interact with the altered sulfides stored in the tailings which generate runoff waters with high metal concentrations. The waste material derived from the exploitation enhanced acidification and metal-releasing processes, due to the increase in the specific surface, which favors the oxidation of sulfide minerals. Acid drainage and high metal(loid)s (Cd, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, As) concentrations in solution were observed in waters leaching the Panasqueira tailing deposits. In dry season, generally the acidic waters, enriched in metals, evaporate progressively depositing sulfate efflorescences characteristic of acidic environments. The elements distribution in precipitated minerals helps in the interpretation of aqueous geochemical data. Aqueous concentrations may be attenuated by goethite, gibbsite, and/or ferrihydrite precipitation in the oxidation zone through adsorption processes. The use of these waters for human consumption and for irrigation represents a threat to humans as they have a potential carcinogenic risk, especially due to the As concentrations. The acid water precipitation is present on the stream sediments, with concentrations exceeding the toxicity limits. Stream sediments are good receptors of metals and metalloids transported by waters. The enrichment factor values, of heavy metal(loid)s from Casinhas stream and Zêzere river sediments, are extremely high in Ag, As, Cd, and Cu revealing enrichments for these potential toxic elements. I geo values shows that samples are strongly to very strongly polluted for Ag, As, Bi, Cd, and Cu. According to the consensus-based SQGs, 80 % of the samples were classified at the level of great concern and adverse biological effects are to be expected frequently in this area.
    Water Air and Soil Pollution 02/2015; 226(2). DOI:10.1007/s11270-014-2255-8 · 1.69 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
25 Downloads
Available from
Jun 2, 2014