Natural Sources of Metals to Surface Waters in the Upper Animas River Watershed, Colorado

Mast, M. Alisa ; Verplanck, Philip L. ; Yager, Douglas B. ; Wright, Winfield G. ; Bove, Dana J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
The upper Animas River watershed is affected by metal-rich drainage from abandoned mines and by natural weathering of mineralized bedrock. To investigate the importance of natural metal sources, surface waters were sampled in a minimally mined but intensely altered area of the watershed. Water chemistry was strongly controlled by the degree of bedrock alteration. Propylitically altered rocks, which contain calcite, produced neutral waters with low metal concentrations, whereas quartz-sericite-pyrite alteration was characterized by acid-sulfate type waters with high metal concentrations. A mass-balance approach was used to estimate natural metal sources, which accounted for 56-905 of the dissolved metal load discharging from the study area
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