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Acid mine drainage

July 1, 2016

Acid mine drainage (AMD) consists of metal-laden solutions produced by the oxidative dissolution of iron sulfide minerals exposed to air, moisture, and acidophilic microbes during the mining of coal and metal deposits. The pH of AMD is usually in the range of 2–6, but mine-impacted waters at circumneutral pH (5–8) are also common. Mine drainage usually contains elevated concentrations of sulfate, iron, aluminum, and other potentially toxic metals leached from rock that hydrolyze and coprecipitate to form rust-colored encrustations or sediments. When AMD is discharged into surface waters or groundwaters, degradation of water quality, injury to aquatic life, and corrosion or encrustation of engineered structures can occur for substantial distances. Prevention and remediation strategies should consider the biogeochemical complexity of the system, the longevity of AMD pollution, the predictive power of geochemical modeling, and the full range of available field technologies for problem mitigation.

Publication Year 2016
Title Acid mine drainage
DOI 10.1081/E-ESS3-120053867
Authors Jerry M. Bigham, Charles A. Cravotta
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70182719
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pennsylvania Water Science Center