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The Behavior of Trace Metals in Water During Natural Acid Sulfate Weathering in an Alpine Watershed

By
W.R. Miller
W.R. Miller
U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 973, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0046
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R.L. Bassett
R.L. Bassett
University of Arizona, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, Tucson, AZ 85721
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J.B. McHugh
J.B. McHugh
Retired;
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W.H. Ficklin
W.H. Ficklin
Deceased
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Published:
January 01, 1997

Abstract

Pyrite oxidation in the upper part of Geneva Creek basin has impacted approximately 8 miles of upper Geneva Creek by natural acid drainage (NAD). The maximum concentrations of metals in stream waters for Fe, Mn, and Al are no more than 10 mg/l; Cu, Ni, and Zn are all less than 1 mg/l, and other metals are less than 0.01 mg/l. There are low-volume seeps and flows that exceed these concentrations, but their impact on stream-water chemistry of Geneva Creek is insignificant.

The study area is located in the Colorado Mineral Belt and is underlain by Proterozoic metamorphic and igneous rocks, and intruded by Tertiary felsic stocks with associated pyritic alteration. The naturally acidic waters draining the pyritic altered areas are similar in composition to some of the more familiar acid mine drainage (AMD) waters.

Oxygen-charged waters from snow and rain aggressively oxidize and dissolve pyrite, releasing H+, Fe2+, SO42-, and trace metals to the waters of the study area. Fe2+ is later oxidized forming hydrous iron oxides. The dominant source for trace metals in waters is disseminated pyrite in the pyritic-altered areas, particularly for Cu, Pb, Zn, Bi, Ag, and As.

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Contents

Reviews

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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