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Identification and prioritisation of mine pollution sources in a temperate watershed using tracer injection and synoptic sampling

Byrne, PA, Yendell, A, Frau, I and Brown, AML (2021) Identification and prioritisation of mine pollution sources in a temperate watershed using tracer injection and synoptic sampling. Mine Water and the Environment. ISSN 1025-9112

Identification and Prioritisation of Mine Pollution Sources in a Temperate Watershed Using Tracer Injection and Synoptic Sampling.pdf - Published Version
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Open Access URL: https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10230-021-00792-0 (Published version)


Identifying and prioritising mine sites for remediation is challenging due to inherently complex hydrological systems and multiple potential sources of mine pollution dispersed across watersheds. Understanding mine pollution dynamics in wet temperate watersheds is particularly challenging due to substantial variability in precipitation and streamflows, which increase the importance of diffuse sources. A tracer dilution and synoptic sampling experiment was conducted in a mined watershed in Scotland to identify the main sources of mine pollution, the relative importance of point and diffuse sources of pollution, and the potential benefits of mine site remediation to stream water quality. Using high spatial resolution metal loading datasets, the major Zn and Cd source areas were identified as point sources of mine water predominantly located in the upper part of the watershed. In contrast, the main sources of Pb were diffuse sources of mine tailings and wastes located in the lower part of the watershed. In the latter case, mobilisation of Pb occurred primarily from a section of braided wetland and an uncapped tailings area. Importantly, diffuse sources of mine pollution were found to be the dominant source of Pb, and an important source of Zn and Cd, even under steady-state streamflow conditions. Mass balance calculations suggest that treatment of the main mine water sources in the upper watershed and capping of the tailings deposit in the lower watershed could reduce stream trace metal concentrations by approximately 70%. These data support the development of conceptual models of mine pollution dynamics in wet temperate watersheds. These conceptual models are important as they: (1) help prioritise those mine sites and features for remediation that will deliver the most environmental and socio-economic benefit, and; (2) provide a means to quantify the importance of diffuse pollution sources that may increase in importance in the future as a result of changes in precipitation patterns in temperate watersheds.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0914 Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
T Technology > TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: Springer
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2021 09:23
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 09:30
DOI or Identification number: 10.1007/s10230-021-00792-0
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15583

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