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

A view of California Gulch, Colo.
USGS scientists conducted a diel (daily cycles) study of Arkansas River, Colorado, and its tributary California Gulch, Colorado (in photo), to identify potential photoreduction of iron. The transport of iron in metal-enriched streams is controlled by photoreduction, precipitation, and dissolution.

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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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Upcoming Publications

  • St. Kevin Gulch Watershed Study Area (Appendix 5): Walton-Day, K., and Kimball, B.A., in McLemore, V.T., Smith, K.S., and Russell, C.C., eds., Environmental Sampling and Monitoring for the Mine Life Cycle--Management Technologies for Metal Mining Influenced Water Series, Englewood, Colo., Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc. (IN PRESS).

Project Remediation Related Activities

Other Acid Mine Drainage Remediation Related Activates

Other USGS Information on Acid Mine Drainage and Abandoned Mine Lands

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