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Tracers of Surficial Processes Affecting Mineral Deposits in Humid Environments

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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/.

photo from the Ducktown mining district, Tennessee (Copper Basin Superfund Site). Photo by Robert Seal, USGS.
USGS 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.
Emphasis will be placed on the use of a variety of geochemical tracers, such as stable and radiogenic isotopes and metal ratios in various solid, liquid, and biologic media.

  • Field studies will emphasize coastal and tropical settings.

  • photo from the Pike Hill Mine Superfund site, VT, USA.  Photo by Robert Seal, USGS.
    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.

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    Last Modified: 18 January 2018