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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances


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

USGS scientists collect a sediment sample from a bridge.
USGS scientists collect a sediment sample during a study of the chemical processes in streams affected by acid mine drainage in the Upper Arkansas River Watershed, Colo. The study focused on the mixing zones where streams affected by acid mine drainage discharged in to the Upper Arkansas River.

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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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