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Book Chapter

The Environmental Geology of Mineral Deposits

By
G.S. Plumlee
G.S. Plumlee
U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 964, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0046
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Published:
January 01, 1997

Abstract

Mineral deposits are concentrations of metallic or other mineral commodities in the Earth's crust that result from a variety of complex geologic processes. The natural weathering and erosion of a mineral deposit at the Earth's surface disperses its constituents into the waters, soils, and sediments of its surrounding environment. There, the constituents may be taken up by plants and (or) organisms. The concentrations and chemical, mineralogical, or biological forms of metals and other constituents from a mineral deposit prior to mining in soils, waters, sediments, plants, and organisms are defined here to be the natural environmental signatures of the deposit.

Modern mining and mineral processing activities employ a wide variety of methods to prevent or minimize adverse environmental impacts (Ripley et al., 1996; Plumlee and Logsdon, 1999; references therein). However, if not carried out with appropriate mitigation and prevention practices (as was common in most historical operations), or as a result of accidental releases, mining and mineral processing can disperse potentially deleterious metals, other deposit constituents, and mineral processing chemicals or byproducts into the environment. Mining-related environmental signatures are defined here as the concentrations and chemical, mineralogical, or biological forms of these metals and chemicals prior to mitigation or remediation in mining and milling wastes, mine waters, mineral processing solutions and byproducts, and smelter emissions and byproducts.

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The Environmental Geochemistry of Mineral Deposits: Part A: Processes, Techniques, and Health Issues Part B: Case Studies and Research Topics

G.S. Plumlee
G.S. Plumlee
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M.J. Logsdon
M.J. Logsdon
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L.F. Filipek
L.F. Filipek
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Society of Economic Geologists
Volume
6
ISBN electronic:
9781629490137
Publication date:
January 01, 1997

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