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Synoptic sampling and principal components analysis to identify sources of water and metals to an acid mine drainage stream

Byrne, PA and Runkel, RL and Walton-Day, KA (2017) Synoptic sampling and principal components analysis to identify sources of water and metals to an acid mine drainage stream. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. pp. 1-21. ISSN 0944-1344

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Abstract

Combining the synoptic mass balance approach with principal components analysis (PCA) can be an effective method for discretising the chemistry of inflows and source areas in watersheds where contamination is diffuse in nature and/or complicated by groundwater interactions. This paper presents a field-scale study in which synoptic sampling and PCA are employed in a mineralized watershed (Lion Creek, Colorado, USA) under low flow conditions to (i) quantify the impacts of mining activity on stream water quality; (ii) quantify the spatial pattern of constituent loading; and (iii) identify inflow sources most responsible for observed changes in stream chemistry and constituent loading. Several of the constituents investigated (Al, Cd, Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn) fail to meet chronic aquatic life standards along most of the study reach. The spatial pattern of constituent loading suggests four primary sources of contamination under low flow conditions. Three of these sources are associated with acidic (pH <3.1) seeps that enter along the left bank of Lion Creek. Investigation of inflow water (tracemetal and major ion) chemistry using PCA suggests a hydraulic connection between many of the left bank inflows and mine water in the Minnesota Mine shaft located to the north-east of the river channel. In addition, water chemistry data during a rainfall-runoff event suggests the spatial pattern of constituent loading may be modified during rainfall due to dissolution of efflorescent salts or erosion of streamside tailings. These data point to the complexity of contaminant mobilisation processes and constituent loading in mining-affected watersheds but the combined synoptic sampling and PCA approach enables a conceptual model of contaminant dynamics to be developed to inform remediation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-9038-x
Uncontrolled Keywords: 03 Chemical Sciences, 05 Environmental Sciences, 06 Biological Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QD Chemistry
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Date Deposited: 19 May 2017 09:08
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2017 21:38
DOI or Identification number: 10.1007/s11356-017-9038-x
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/6522

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