Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Tracers of Surficial Processes Affecting Mineral Deposits in Humid Environments
This project is summarized in this fact sheet:
Seal, R.R., and Ayuso, R.A., 2011, Understanding processes affecting mineral deposits in humid environments: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010–3105, 6 p., available only at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3105/.
study of the Ducktown mining
district, Tennessee (Copper Basin Superfund Site)
This project is an investigation of geochemical processes associated with
the weathering of mineral deposits and their wastes in humid climatic settings,
which are characteristic of the eastern United States.
Field studies will emphasize coastal and tropical settings.
Emphasis will be placed on the use of a variety of geochemical tracers, such
stable and radiogenic isotopes and
in various solid, liquid, and biologic media.
The picture was taken in August 2005 at the Pike Hill mine Superfund site
in Vermont, a site with three abandoned copper mines. The geologist is sampling
an acid seep at the base of a waste pile at the site. A bloom of an acid-loving
filamentous algae (Ulothrix sp.) is found starting at the point where water
first emerges from the waste pile. A second seep with bloom can be seen in
the background. This part of the watershed forms the headwaters of Pike Hill
Brook, which is impacted for several miles.
Experimental studies will focus on identified deficiencies in current thermodynamic,
kinetic, and isotopic fractionation databases relevant to the project as a whole.
- Some tropical studies will focus on specific elements or compounds that have been identified as being of particular concern from regional, national, or global perspectives.
- Other tropical studies will be aimed at understanding the geochemical processes
that result in natural or human-induced attenuation of mine related metals.