Contamination from acid mine drainage affects ecosystems and usability of groundwater for domestic and municipal purposes. The Captain Jack Superfund Site outside of Ward, Boulder County, Colorado, USA, hosts a draining mine adit that was remediated through emplacement of a hydraulic bulkhead to preclude acid mine drainage from entering nearby Lefthand Creek. During impoundment of water within the mine workings in 2020, a diverse and novel dataset of stable isotopes of water, sulfate, and carbon (δ2H, δ18OH2O, δ18OSO4, δ34S, δ13CDIC), rare earth elements, and environmental tracers (noble gases and tritium) were collected to understand groundwater recharge and mixing, mechanisms of sulfide oxidation and water-rock interaction, and the influence of remediation on the hydrologic and geochemical system. Water isotopes indicate that groundwater distal from the mine workings has seasonally variable recharge sources whereas water within the workings has a distinctive composition with minimal temporal variability. Sulfate isotopes indicate that sulfide oxidation occurs both within the mine workings and in adjacent igneous dikes, and that sulfide oxidation may occur under suboxic conditions with ferric iron as the oxidant. Carbon isotopes track the neutralization of acidic waters and the carbon mass budget of the system. Rare earth elements corroborate stable isotopes in indicating groundwater compartmentalization, and additionally illustrate enhanced mineral weathering in the mine workings. Environmental tracers indicate mixing of modern and pre-modern groundwater and inform timelines that active remediation may be needed. Together these datasets provide a useful template for similar investigations of abandoned mine sites where physical mixing processes, sources of solute loading, or remediation timeframes are of importance.
|Title||Mechanisms of water-rock interaction and implications for remediating flooded mine workings elucidated from environmental tracers, stable isotopes, and rare earth elements|
|Authors||Connor P. Newman, Katherine Walton-Day, Robert L. Runkel, Richard Wilkin|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Applied Geochemistry|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Colorado Water Science Center|