Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Arsenic Contamination from Hard Rock Mining -- Whitewood Creek-Belle Fourche River, South Dakota
Mining wastes from the processing of gold ore were deposited in Whitewood Creek, South Dakota, for more than 100 years. About 100 million tons of finely ground gold-mill tailings, containing arsenic and other trace elements, mixed with natural sediments and were deposited in channels and flood plains downstream. This study, now concluded, characterized the downstream dispersal of contaminants through water movement, sediment transport, transfer of contaminants from sediments to water, and uptake of contaminants by aquatic organisms. Information gathered helped evaluate the long-term threat of the contaminants to the stream ecosystem and to downstream water supplies.
USGS Information on Contamination from Mining Activities
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