At a 50-year-old coal mine drainage barrens in central Pennsylvania, USA, we evaluated the biogeochemistry of acidic, Fe(III)oxy(hydr)oxide precipitates in reclaimed plots and compared them to untreated precipitates in control areas. Reclaimed plots supported successional vegetation that became established after a one-time compost and lime treatment in 2006, while control plots supported biological crusts. Precipitates were sampled from moist yet unsaturated surface layers in an area with lateral subsurface flow of mine drainage above a fragipan. Fe(II) concentrations were three- to five-fold higher in reclaimed than control precipitates. Organically bound Fe and amorphous iron oxides, as fractions of total Fe, were also higher in reclaimed than control precipitates. Estimates of Fe-reducing and Fe-oxidizing bacteria were four- to tenfold higher in root-adherent than both types of control precipitates. By scaling up measurements from experimental plots, total Fe losses during the 5-yr following reclamation were estimated at 45 t Fe ha-1 yr-1.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis