Kathy Smith is a Scientist Emeritus with the Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center.
My research examines processes that influence metal concentration, speciation, bioavailability, and mobility in low-temperature aquatic systems. My general research interests include low-temperature aqueous geochemistry, environmental geochemistry, water/rock interactions, trace-element geochemistry, metal bioavailability, environmental toxicology of metals, characterization of mining wastes, leaching techniques, and sampling methodologies. My recent research topics include metal recovery from waste streams, metal sorption and transport in mined and mineralized areas, application of the biotic ligand model in mined and mineralized areas, and sampling and monitoring methods for the mine life cycle. Previous research topics include mine waste characterization, mine drainage characterization, geoenvironmental models, metal sorption onto iron oxyhydroxides, effects of fluvial tailings deposits on water quality, environmental effects of historical mining, and development of multi-disciplinary methods.
Science and Products
Sampling and monitoring for closure
Questa baseline and pre-mining ground-water quality investigation. 19. Leaching characteristics of composited materials from mine waste-rock piles and naturally altered areas near Questa, New Mexico
Understanding Contaminants Associated with Mineral Deposits
Strategies to predict metal mobility in surficial mining environments
A simple scheme to determine potential aquatic metal toxicity from mining wastes
What's weathering? Mineralogy and field leach studies in mine waste, Leadville and Montezuma mining districts, Colorado
Predicting toxic effects of copper on aquatic biota in mineralized areas by using the Biotic Ligand Model
Integrating bioavailability approaches into waste rock evaluations
The use of synthetic jarosite as an analog for natural jarosite
Comparison of mine waste assessment methods at the Rattler mine site, Virginia Canyon, Colorado
Science and Products
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Sampling and monitoring for closureAn important aspect of planning a new mine or mine expansion within the modern regulatory framework is to design for ultimate closure. Sampling and monitoring for closure is a form of environmental risk management. By implementing a sampling and monitoring program early in the life of the mining operation, major costs can be avoided or minimized. The costs for treating mine drainage in perpetuity
Questa baseline and pre-mining ground-water quality investigation. 19. Leaching characteristics of composited materials from mine waste-rock piles and naturally altered areas near Questa, New MexicoThe goal of this study is to compare and contrast the leachability of metals and the acidity from individual mine waste-rock piles and natural erosional scars in the study area near Questa, New Mexico. Surficial multi-increment (composite) samples less than 2 millimeters in diameter from five waste-rock piles, nine erosional-scar areas, a less-altered site, and a tailings slurry-pipe sample were a
Understanding Contaminants Associated with Mineral DepositsRecent interdisciplinary studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have resulted in substantial progress in understanding the processes that control * the release of metals and acidic waters from inactive mines and mineralized areas, * the transport of metals and acidic waters to streams, and * the fate and effect of metals and acidity on downstream ecosystems.
Strategies to predict metal mobility in surficial mining environmentsThis report presents some strategies to predict metal mobility at mining sites. These strategies are based on chemical, physical, and geochemical information about metals and their interactions with the environment. An overview of conceptual models, metal sources, and relative mobility of metals under different geochemical conditions is presented, followed by a discussion of some important physica
A simple scheme to determine potential aquatic metal toxicity from mining wastesA decision tree (mining waste decision tree) that uses simple physical and chemical tests has been developed to determine whether effluent from mine waste material poses a potential toxicity threat to the aquatic environment. For the chemical portion of the tree, leaching tests developed by the United States Geological Survey, the Colorado Division of Minerals and Geology (Denver, CO), and a modif
What's weathering? Mineralogy and field leach studies in mine waste, Leadville and Montezuma mining districts, ColoradoWeathering is important in the development of rock fabrics that control porosity in mine-waste materials, and in turn, porosity affects metal transport through and from mine-waste piles into watersheds. Mine-waste piles are dynamic physical and chemical systems as evidenced by remnant Fe-oxide boxwork structures after sulfide minerals, development of alteration rinds and etch pits on grains, and p
Predicting toxic effects of copper on aquatic biota in mineralized areas by using the Biotic Ligand ModelThe chemical speciation of metals influences their biological effects. The Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) is a computational approach to predict chemical speciation and acute toxicological effects of metals on aquatic biota. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency incorporated the BLM into their regulatory water-quality criteria for copper. Results from three different laboratory copper toxi
Integrating bioavailability approaches into waste rock evaluationsThe presence of toxic metals in soils affected by mining, industry, agriculture and urbanization, presents problems to human health, the establishment and maintenance of plant and animal habitats, and the rehabilitation of affected areas. A key to managing these problems is predicting the fraction of metal in a given soil that will be biologically labile, and potentially harmful ('bioavailable').
The use of synthetic jarosite as an analog for natural jarositeThe presence of jarosite in soil or mining waste is an indicator of acidic sulfate-rich conditions. Physical and chemical properties of synthetic jarosites are commonly used as analogs in laboratory studies to determine solubility and acid-generation of naturally occurring jarosites. In our work we have mineralogically and chemically characterized both natural and synthetic jarosites. Analysis of
Comparison of mine waste assessment methods at the Rattler mine site, Virginia Canyon, ColoradoIn a joint project, the mine waste-piles at the Rattler Mine near Idaho Springs, Colorado, were sampled and analyzed by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Colorado School of Mines (CSM). Separate sample collection, sample leaching, and leachate analyses were performed by both groups and the results were compared. For the study, both groups used the USGS sampling procedure an