Source and fate of inorganic soil contamination around the abandoned Phillips sulfide mine, hudson Highlands, New York

Sivajini Gilchrist, Alexander Gates, Evert Elzinga, Matthew Gorring, Zoltan Szabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The abandoned Phillips sulfide mine in the critical Highlands watershed in New York has been shown to produce strongly acidic mine drainage (AMD) with anomalous metal contaminants in first-order streams that exceeded local water standards by up to several orders of magnitude (Gilchrist et al., 2009). The metal-sulfide-rich tailings also produce contaminated soils with pH < 4, organic matter < 2.5% and trace metals sequestered in soil oxides. A geochemical transect to test worst-case soil contamination showed that Cr, Co and Ni correlated positively with Mn, (r = 0.72, r= 0.89, r = 0.80, respectively), suggesting Mn-oxide sequestration and that Cu and Pb correlated with Fe (r = 0.76, r = 0.83, respectively), suggesting sequestration in goethite. Ubiquitous, yellow coating on the mine wastes, including jarosite and goethite, is a carrier of the metals. Geochemical and μ -SXRF analyses determined Cu to be the major soil contaminant. μ-SXRF also demonstrated that the heterogeneous nature of the soil chemistry at the micro-meter scale is self-similar to those in the bulk soil samples. Generally metals decreased, with some fluctuations, rapidly downslope through suspension of fines and dissolution in AMD leaving the area of substantial contamination « 0.5 km from the source.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-74
Number of pages21
JournalSoil and Sediment Contamination
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011

Keywords

  • Goethite
  • Jarosite
  • Metal contamination
  • Mine tailings
  • μ-SXRF

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