Impact of acid mine drainages on surficial waters of an abandoned mining site



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García Lorenzo, Mari Luz and Marimón, Jorge and Navarro Hervás, M. C. and Pérez Sirvent, Carmen and Martínez Sánchez, María José and Molina Ruiz, José (2016) Impact of acid mine drainages on surficial waters of an abandoned mining site. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 23 (18). pp. 6014-6023. ISSN Issn: 0944-1344 ; 1614-7499 (Online)

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Weathering of sulphide minerals produces a great variety of efflorescences of soluble sulphate salts. These minerals play an important role for environmental pollution, since they can be either a sink or a source for acidity and trace elements. This paper aims to characterise surface waters affected by mining activities in the Sierra Minera of Cartagena-La Union (SE, Spain). Water samples were analysed for trace metals (Zn, Cd, Pb, Cu, As and Fe), major ions (Na+, K+, Ca2+ and Mg2+) and anions (F−, Cl−, NO3 −, CO3 2−, SO4 2−) concentrations and were submitted to an “evaporation-precipitation” experiment that consisted in identifying the salts resulting from the evaporation of the water aliquots sampled onsite. Mineralogy of the salts was studied using X-ray diffraction and compared with the results of calculations using VISUAL MINTEQ. The study area is heavily polluted as a result of historical mining and processing activities that has produced large amount of wastes characterised by a high trace elements content, acidic pH and containing minerals resulting from the supergene alteration of the raw materials. The mineralogical study of the efflorescences obtained from waters shows that magnesium, zinc, iron and aluminium sulphates predominate in the acid mine drainage precipitates. Minerals of the hexahydrite group have been quantified together with minerals of the rozenite group, alunogen and other phases such as coquimbite and copiapite. Calcium sulphates correspond exclusively to gypsum. In a semiarid climate, such as that of the study area, these minerals contribute to understand the response of the system to episodic rainfall events. MINTEQ model could be used for the analysis of waters affected by mining activities but simulation of evaporation gives more realistic results considering that MINTEQ does not consider soluble hydrated salts.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Acid mine drainage; Sulphate efflorescences; Trace elements; Mining activity; Environmental minerals; X-ray diffraction
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Geochemistry
Sciences > Geology > Hidrology
ID Code:59215
Deposited On:19 Feb 2020 18:44
Last Modified:02 Mar 2020 10:19

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