Determination of natural background concentrations of dissolved components in water at mining, milling and smelting sites

Runnels, D. D. ; Cline, D. J. ; Dupon, D. P. ; Jones, R. L.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1999
To establish meaningful remediation goals and monitoring programs in areas disturbed by mining and associated industries, it is desirable to determine the natural concentrations of metals that existed in these areas prior to being disturbed. In mineralized areas, multiple natural populations of metals and associated components may be present. This paper describes a method for characterizing the natural background chemistry by means of probability distribution dia¬grams. The method can be applied to water, soil and other natural materials. In a study of a complicated hydrogeologic system at the Kennecott Utah Copper North and South Operational Areas near Salt Lake City, UT, probability distribution diagrams were used to differentiate between natural background waters and waters impacted by human activities. The probability distribution diagrams allowed a component-by-¬component interpretation of the chemistry of ground¬water and surface water over a large geographic area. Natural chemical background populations and anthro¬pogenic effects were identified Although the method is illustrated for mining-related sites, the same approach can also be used for other natural and anthropogeni¬cally impacted sites.
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