Major and trace-element analyses of acid mine waters in the Leviathan Mine drainage basin, California/Nevada; October, 1981 to October, 1982
Water issuing from the inactive Leviathan open-pit sulfur mine has caused serious degradation of the water quality in the Leviathan/Bryant Creek drainage basin which drains into the East Fork of the Carson River. As part of a pollution abatement project of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, the U.S. Geological Survey collected hydrologic and water quality data for the basin during 1981-82. During this period a comprehensive sampling survey was completed to provide information on trace metal attenuation during downstream transport and to provide data for interpreting geochemical processes. This report presents the analytical results from this sampling survey. Sixty-seven water samples were filtered and preserved on-site at 45 locations and at 3 different times. Temperature, discharge, pH, and Eh and specific conductance were measured on-site. Concentrations of 37 major and trace constituents were determined later in the laboratory on preserved samples. The quality of the analyses was checked by using two or more techniques to determine the concentrations including d.c.-argon plasma emission spectrometry (DCP), flame and flameless atomic absorption spectrophotometry, UV-visible spectrophotometry, hydride-generation atomic absorption spectrophotometry and ion chromatography. Additional quality control was obtained by comparing measured to calculated conductance, comparing measured to calculated Eh (from Fe-2 +/Fe-3+ determinations), charge balance calculations and mass balance calculations for conservative constituents at confluence points. Leviathan acid mine waters contain mg/L concentrations of As, Cr, Co, Cu, Mn, Ni, T1, V and Zn, and hundreds to thousands of mg/L concentrations of Al, Fe, and sulfate at pH values as low as 1.8. Other elements including Ba, B, Be, Bi, Cd , Mo, Sb, Se and Te are elevated above normal background concentrations and fall in the microgram/L range. The chemical and 34 S/32 S isotopic analyses demonstrate that these acid waters are derived from pyrite oxidation and not from the oxidation of elemental sulfur.
|Major and trace-element analyses of acid mine waters in the Leviathan Mine drainage basin, California/Nevada; October, 1981 to October, 1982
|J. W. Ball, D. Kirk Nordstrom
|USGS Numbered Series
|Water-Resources Investigations Report
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|WMA - Earth System Processes Division