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Source apportionment of mine pollution across streamflows

Onnis, P, Byrne, P, Hudson-Edwards, KA, Frau, I, Stott, TA, Williams, T, Edwards, P and Hunt, CO (2023) Source apportionment of mine pollution across streamflows. Applied Geochemistry. ISSN 0883-2927

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2023.105623 (Published version)


Globally, metals released by mine waste represent a challenge for protecting water quality and ecosystems. Understanding metal dispersion in catchments is critical for developing efficient remediation strategies and reducing contamination from mining activities. Efforts to address the issue have been constrained by diffuse sources and variation of source contributions across streamflows. In the UK, metal source apportionment is typically addressed using monitoring strategies with low spatial resolution, which can underestimate the contribution of diffuse sources. In this proof-of-concept study, diffuse sources were accurately apportioned in a mining-impacted catchment in Mid-Wales (UK), using a hydrogeochemical approach with combined continuous tracer injections, gulp injections, and streambed sediment geochemistry. The continuous tracer injections identified a major Zn and Pb point source, diffuse sources due to mine waste tip runoff, and potential groundwater contributions. Variations in source contributions were estimated during high and low flow conditions, with Zn having similar sources and importance across streamflows and Pb being released mainly from overground tips during high flow conditions (22% Pb under low flow and 80% Pb under high flow). The distribution of metal-bearing sediment along the stream sheds light on metal release mechanisms across streamflow conditions. This hydrogeochemical approach for source apportionment, builds on common monitoring methods, and represents a substantial advance in accounting diffuse mine contamination sources, understanding potential metal release mechanisms, and designing remediation strategies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0402 Geochemistry; 0502 Environmental Science and Management; Geochemistry & Geophysics
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
T Technology > TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Elsevier
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2023 10:59
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2023 11:00
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2023.105623
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19130
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