Historic mining in Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah has left behind many mine drainage tunnels that discharge water to Little Cottonwood Creek. To quantify the major sources of mine drainage to the stream, synoptic sampling was conducted during a tracer injection under low flow conditions (September 1998). There were distinct increases in discharge downstream from mine drainage and major tributary inflows that represented the total surface and subsurface contributions. The chemistry of stream water determined from synoptic sampling was controlled by the weathering of carbonate rocks and mine drainage inflows. Buffering by carbonate rocks maintained a high pH throughout the study reach. Most of the metal loading was from four surface-water inflows and three subsurface inflows. The main subsurface inflow was from a mine pool in the Wasatch Tunnel. Natural attenuation of all the metals resulted in the formation of colloidal solids, sorption of some metals, and accumulation onto the streambed. The deposition on the streambed could contribute to chronic toxicity for aquatic organisms. Information from the study will help to make decisions about environmental restoration.
|Title||Quantification of mine-drainage inflows to Little Cottonwood Creek, Utah, using a tracer-injection and synoptic-sampling study|
|Authors||B. Kimball, R. Runkel, L. Gerner|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Environmental Geology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Toxic Substances Hydrology Program|