Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center

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(Project status is complete. Please check the project list for currently active projects.)

Environmental Behavior of Mineral Deposits

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Regardless of its development status, a mineral deposit may have an impact on local environments and ecosystems. Knowledge of the effects of different kinds of mineral deposits on the local environment is necessary for sustainable land usage. The USGS Eastern Mineral Resources Program is conducting integrated field and laboratory studies aimed at understanding the environmental behavior of important mineral deposit types in the Eastern United States, as well as the long-term effects of mining. Current work is focused on characterizing the environmental signatures of waters and solids for various stages of the "life cycle" of massive sulfide deposits and associated mine wastes as they behave under eastern United States climatic conditions. Results will be used to develop and refine criteria needed to predict the environmental impact of disturbing or developing these deposits. Site-specific studies are currently underway in the areas below. Laboratory-based studies are being conducted in Reston, Virginia.

  map of the Eastern United States showing yellow stars which indicate the project study areas.  

Mercury in the Lake Superior Region

Bald Mountain, Maine (completed project)

Elizabeth Mine and Vermont Copper belt, Vermont

Prince William Forest Park and
Mineral District, Virginia

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee (completed project)

Laboratory-based studies


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Last Modified: 18 January 2018