Isotopic imprints of mountaintop mining contaminants

Avner Vengosh, T. Ty Lindberg, Brittany R. Merola, Laura Ruhl, Nathaniel Richard Warner, Alissa White, Gary S. Dwyer, Richard T. Di Giulio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mountaintop mining (MTM) is the primary procedure for surface coal exploration within the central Appalachian region of the eastern United States, and it is known to contaminate streams in local watersheds. In this study, we measured the chemical and isotopic compositions of water samples from MTM-impacted tributaries and streams in the Mud River watershed in West Virginia. We systematically document the isotopic compositions of three major constituents: sulfur isotopes in sulfate (δ34SSO4), carbon isotopes in dissolved inorganic carbon (δ13C DIC), and strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr). The data show that δ34SSO4, δ13C DIC, Sr/Ca, and 87Sr/86Sr measured in saline- and selenium-rich MTM impacted tributaries are distinguishable from those of the surface water upstream of mining impacts. These tracers can therefore be used to delineate and quantify the impact of MTM in watersheds. High Sr/Ca and low 87Sr/86Sr characterize tributaries that originated from active MTM areas, while tributaries from reclaimed MTM areas had low Sr/Ca and high 87Sr/86Sr. Leaching experiments of rocks from the watershed show that pyrite oxidation and carbonate dissolution control the solute chemistry with distinct 87Sr/86Sr ratios characterizing different rock sources. We propose that MTM operations that access the deeper Kanawha Formation generate residual mined rocks in valley fills from which effluents with distinctive 87Sr/86Sr and Sr/Ca imprints affect the quality of the Appalachian watersheds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10041-10048
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume47
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2013

Fingerprint

Impurities
Watersheds
pollutant
watershed
tributary
Dacarbazine
Rocks
Strontium Isotopes
Sulfur Isotopes
isotopic composition
Carbon Isotopes
valley fill
Coal
strontium isotope
Carbonates
sulfur isotope
dissolved inorganic carbon
Selenium
Chemical analysis
selenium

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

Vengosh, A., Lindberg, T. T., Merola, B. R., Ruhl, L., Warner, N. R., White, A., ... Di Giulio, R. T. (2013). Isotopic imprints of mountaintop mining contaminants. Environmental Science and Technology, 47(17), 10041-10048. https://doi.org/10.1021/es4012959
Vengosh, Avner ; Lindberg, T. Ty ; Merola, Brittany R. ; Ruhl, Laura ; Warner, Nathaniel Richard ; White, Alissa ; Dwyer, Gary S. ; Di Giulio, Richard T. / Isotopic imprints of mountaintop mining contaminants. In: Environmental Science and Technology. 2013 ; Vol. 47, No. 17. pp. 10041-10048.
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Vengosh, A, Lindberg, TT, Merola, BR, Ruhl, L, Warner, NR, White, A, Dwyer, GS & Di Giulio, RT 2013, 'Isotopic imprints of mountaintop mining contaminants', Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 47, no. 17, pp. 10041-10048. https://doi.org/10.1021/es4012959

Isotopic imprints of mountaintop mining contaminants. / Vengosh, Avner; Lindberg, T. Ty; Merola, Brittany R.; Ruhl, Laura; Warner, Nathaniel Richard; White, Alissa; Dwyer, Gary S.; Di Giulio, Richard T.

In: Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 47, No. 17, 02.09.2013, p. 10041-10048.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Isotopic imprints of mountaintop mining contaminants

AU - Vengosh, Avner

AU - Lindberg, T. Ty

AU - Merola, Brittany R.

AU - Ruhl, Laura

AU - Warner, Nathaniel Richard

AU - White, Alissa

AU - Dwyer, Gary S.

AU - Di Giulio, Richard T.

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Vengosh A, Lindberg TT, Merola BR, Ruhl L, Warner NR, White A et al. Isotopic imprints of mountaintop mining contaminants. Environmental Science and Technology. 2013 Sep 2;47(17):10041-10048. https://doi.org/10.1021/es4012959