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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations

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

The large white bottle and other tracer test equipment.
The large white bottle contained a solution of sodium bromide, a conservative tracer, that was injected into the stream to characterize the hydrology of St. Kevin Gulch, Colo.Ņa stream impacted by acid mine drainage. The analysis of tracer injection experiments can yield a wealth of hydraulic information, for example information on time of travel, instantaneous discharge, temporal variation in discharge, and rates of ground-water inflow.

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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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