Metal-mining related wastes in the Boulder River basin study area in northern Jefferson County, Montana have been implicated in their detrimental effects on water quality with regard to acid-generation and toxic-metal solubility. Sediments, fluvial tailings and water from High Ore Creek have been identified as significant contributors to water quality degradation of the Boulder River below Basin, Montana. A study of 42 fluvial tailings cores and 7 stream sediments from High Ore Creek was undertaken to determine the concentrations of environmentally sensitive elements (i.e. Ag, As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn) present in these materials, and the mineral phases containing those elements. Two sites of fluvial deposition of mine-waste contaminated sediment on upper High Ore Creek were sampled using a one-inch soil probe. Forty-two core samples were taken producing 247 subsamples. The samples were analyzed by ICP-AES (inductively coupled-plasma atomic emission spectroscopy) using a total mixed-acid digestion. Results of the core analyses show that the elements described above are present at very high concentrations (to 22,000 ppm As, to 460 ppm Ag, to 900 ppm Cd, 4,300 ppm Cu, 46,000ppm Pb, and 50,000 ppm Zn). Seven stream-sediment samples were also analyzed by ICP-AES for total element content and for leachable element content. Results show that the sediment of High Ore Creek has elevated levels of ore-related metals throughout its length, down to the confluence with the Boulder River, and that the metals are, to a significant degree, contained in the leachable phase, namely the hydrous amorphous iron- and manganese-hydroxide coatings on detrital sediment particles.
|Title||Analytical results for forty-two fluvial tailings cores and seven stream sediment samples from High Ore Creek, northern Jefferson County, Montana|
|Authors||David L. Fey, Stan E. Church|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Open-File Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Abandoned Mine Lands Initiative; Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center; Toxic Substances Hydrology Program|