Transport and Fate of Zn and Cu Rich, Low pH Water in Surface and Ground Water from Porphyry Copper and Related Ore Deposits, Basin and Range Province, Southeastern Arizona

Gray, Floyd ; Wirt, Laurie ; Caruthers, Kerry ; Gu, Ailiang ; Velez, Carlos ; Hirschberg, Douglas M. ; Bolm, Karen
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 22
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
Understanding sources of dissolved metals and transport characteristics of acid drainage is needed to assist land-use strategies in mineralized regions, particularly in the semi-arid southwestern United States. Water- quality samples were collected from mined and un-mined parts of the Patagonia and southern Santa Rita Mountains of southern Arizona from streams, springs, seeps, adits, alluvial wells, and bedrock wells. Water quality during base-flow conditions was compared with that *of runoff samples from infrequent winter and summer storms. The largest fraction of annual discharge in these ephemeral streams consists of storm runoff, although springs provide a steady source of low discharge base flow to numerous intermittent perennial reaches. Several abandoned mines in the northern Patagonia Mountains contribute acid and heavy metals to streams. During base-flow conditions in mineralized areas, natural springs and intermittent stream reaches produce acidity but the volume is typically low and acidity is often diluted or neutralized down gradient. Overland runoff contains low concentrations of dissolved metals and moderate acidity, however, stream waters were strongly acidified and metal-laden from contact with abundant pyrite-bearing stream sediments derived from erosion of waste-rock material in and along the sides of the stream channel.
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