November 4, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Sarah Maj Presents Poster on Role of Irons Oxidation, Preciptation Aluminum & Iron Minerals in Acid Mine Drainage Recovery

Geological Sciences graduate student Sarah Maj presented a poster on “Role of Irons Oxidation and Preciptation Aluminum and Iron Minerals in the Recovery of an Acid Mine Drainage Remediated Stream: Hewett Fork, Ohio” at the October annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Vancouver, British Columbia

Her co-authors were Dr. Dina Lopez, Professor and Chair of Geological Sciences at Ohio Univeristy; OHIO geology alum Katherine Schleich ’14MS; and Natalie Kruse and geology alum Jennifer Bowman ’97BS, ’00MS from the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Bowman is an alum of the Ohio University geology program.

Abstract: Thousands of miles of streams in the United States are impacted by acid mine drainage (AMD) produced by the exploitation of metal and coal mines. Several methods of remediation are used to improve the water quality and recover the diversity in the aquatic life. One of these methods is the addition of alkaline materials to the stream to neutralize the water, precipitate minerals of heavy metals, and rise the pH. Parameters that are usually considered to determine the load of alkalinity to remediate the water include the acidity and flow of the source(s), and concentration of heavy metals.

However, recent studies in AMD remediated streams in Southeastern Ohio suggest that the evolution of the water and sediment chemistry along the stream after remediation is also important, and than that evolution depends no only in the added alkalinity but also in the physical and chemical characteristics of the impacted stream. Retention of precipitated fine-grained sediments is important to improve the physical environment for the aquatic life downstream.

If sediment retention ponds cannot be constructed, the occurrence of areas where sediments can be deposited and stored is determined by the topographic gradient of the stream. A detailed high-resolution profile of the stream should be constructed to identify regions where the sediments can be retained.

The addition of water, dissolved and suspended matter from tributaries to the main stem should also be considered. Tributaries can provide additional alkalinity or acidity to the stream helping to the remediation process or making it more difficult. Groundwater discharges to the stream can also provide either additional alkalinity or acidity to the stream, affecting the chemical budget. These additions from surface and/or groundwater can play an important role in stream recovery.

A budget of alkalinity, acidity, and other chemical species along the impacted stream can provide important information to predict the effect of alkaline additions in stream recovery. Studies prior to remediation should not concentrate in the source alone but to consider the whole watershed impacted by the AMD sources.

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