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Use of Lead Isotopes as Natural Tracers of Metal Contamination—A Case Study of the Penn Mine and Camanche Reservoir, California

By
S.E. Church
S.E. Church
1
U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 973, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0046
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C.N. Alpers
C.N. Alpers
2
U.S. Geological Survey, Placer Hall, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819-6129
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R.B. Vaughn
R.B. Vaughn
1
U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 973, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0046
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P.H. Briggs
P.H. Briggs
1
U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 973, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0046
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D.G. Slotton
D.G. Slotton
3
Division of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
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Published:
January 01, 1997

Abstract

Lead isotopes have been used as tracers of geologic processes in both ore-genesis and petrogenesis studies. Recently, they have found increased application in contamination studies. There are two requirements for their application in contamination studies: (1) that the isotopic signature of the contaminant is different from the rock lead in the area, and (2) that the signature of the source is known or can be determined. In this study, we examined lead isotope data for sediments from Camanche Reservoir near Stockton, California. We identified two sources of contamination in the sediments and soils of the area: one from acid-mine drainage from the Penn Mine within the drainage basin, and a second exotic lead, probably from airborne deposition from combustion of leaded gasoline in the early 1970s, found in soils.

Lead isotope data for sediments from the drowned channel of the Mokelumne River in Camanche Reservoir plot on a mixing line between the lead isotope signature of massive sulfide Cu-Zn- Pb ores from the Penn Mine and unaffected sediments derived from tributaries draining into Camanche Reservoir. The contribution of lead from the source of these metals, the Penn Mine, is diluted by sediments supplied by these tributaries. Distribution profiles for copper and zinc mimic the behavior of lead. Geochemical and lead isotope data for a sediment sample recovered from the fish hatchery at Camanche Dam following the 1989 fish kill indicate that the sediment was from the deep portion of Camanche Reservoir. The water intake from the hatchery was subsequently moved to reduce the probability of intake of sulfidic, anoxic waters and associated metal-rich sediments from deep in the reservoir. Since 1994, the water level of the reservoir has been maintained at 180 feet or more as recommended by Slotton et al. (1994) on the basis of their sediment resuspension studies. Installation of a hypolimnetic aeration system has resulted in no subsequent fish kills in the fish hatchery at Camanche Dam.

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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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