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Fluvial morphology as a driver of lead and zinc geochemical dispersion at a catchment scale

Onnis, P, Byrne, P, Hudson-Edwards, KA, Stott, T and Hunt, CO (2023) Fluvial morphology as a driver of lead and zinc geochemical dispersion at a catchment scale. Minerals, 13 (6). pp. 1-18.

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Metal-mining exploitation has caused ecosystem degradation worldwide. Legacy wastes are often concentrated around former mines where monitoring and research works are mostly focused. Geochemical and physical weathering can affect metal-enriched sediment locations and their capacity to release metals at a catchment scale. This study investigated how fluvial geomorphology and soil geochemistry drive zinc and lead dispersion along the Nant Cwmnewyddion (Wales, UK). Sediments from different locations were sampled for geochemical and mineralogical investigations (portable X-ray fluorescence, scanning electron microscope, X-ray diffraction, and electron microprobe analysis). The suspended sediment fluxes in the streamwater were estimated at different streamflows to quantify the metal dispersion. Topographical and slope analysis allowed us to link sediment erosion with the exposure of primary sulphide minerals in the headwater. Zinc and lead entered the streamwater as aqueous phases or as suspended sediments. Secondary sources were localised in depositional stream areas due to topographical obstruction and a decrease in stream gradient. Sediment zinc and lead concentrations were lower in depositional areas and associated with Fe-oxide or phyllosilicates. Streamwater zinc and lead fluxes highlighted their mobility under high-flow conditions. This multi-disciplinary approach stressed the impact of the headwater mining work on the downstream catchment and provided a low-cost strategy to target sediment sampling via geomorphological observations.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0403 Geology; 0502 Environmental Science and Management; 0914 Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: MDPI
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2024 16:34
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2024 16:45
DOI or ID number: 10.3390/min13060790
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22833
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