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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations

Hardrock Mining in Rocky Mountain Terrain -- Upper Arkansas River, Colorado [Completed]

A light probe in a stream that's attached to the back wire coming up from the bottom of photo.
A light probe (back wire coming up from the bottom of photo) was used to measure light intensity during an investigation of the photoreduction of iron and other metals. Photoreduction caused diel (daily) variations in the concentrations of ferrous iron (Fe II) in St. Kevin Gulch, Colo.

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Mined watersheds in the Rocky Mountains are characterized by high altitudes, significant runoff and numerous contaminant sources dispersed through the watershed. Research on hardrock mining contamination in Rocky Mountain terrain is focused in the Arkansas River Basin. Acid mine drainage containing metals enter streams via runoff from mine wastes and tailings and ground-water pathways. The metals and acidic conditions are toxic to aquatic life. Scientists have studied contaminant source mechanisms, transport and transformation in streams, and how to use this knowledge to determine effective remedial strategies.

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