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Using a Novel Reactive Transport Model to Determine Flow Distribution between Major Roadways in a Partially Flooded Abandoned Underground Metal Mine

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Natalie Kruse, Professor Paul Younger


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Understanding the hydraulics of an abandoned underground mine is a necessary step in developing a management plan. Although exhaustive in-situ measurements of flow and water chemistry would be the ideal way to gain such an understanding, this is rarely achievable. Hydraulic models may be able to add some insight into the situation, but may not provide a solution that agrees with the chemical data. POSSUM (Pollutant Sources and Sinks in Underground Mines) is a novel reactive transport model created specifically for hydrogeochemical simulation of partially flooded abandoned underground mines. POSSUM simulates varying flow through multiple interconnected mine roadways, mineral weathering reactions, precipitation of insoluble phases, linear reversible sorption, and dissolution and precipitation of acid generating salts. One of the main advantages of a model that combines both the hydraulics of mine systems with their geochemistry is the flexibility of solutions; some of the key applications include determining the longevity of polluting drainage from a site, verifying pollutant sources and sinks and quantifying the flow regime based on chemical data. A good example of the third application of POSSUM is the determination of flow distribution between three main roadways in Rampgill Horse Level, an abandoned lead/zinc mine in Nenthead, Cumbria, UK. Although a comprehensive survey of water chemistry has been conducted by Newcastle University, accurate flow measurements are difficult to take due to the irregular cross-sectional shape of the channels. POSSUM has been used to iteratively simulate the geochemistry at several main junctions and the outflow of the mine using different flow combinations; these were adjusted until the simulated water chemistry was equal to that measured in 18-months of distributed underground sampling. The simulated flow rates were then used to model the sources and sinks of various pollutants, including zinc and sulphate. This application of POSSUM has been deemed successful, with a percent error between simulated and measured chemistry ranging from 0.7% to 14% (depending on the species). The applications of computational models to mine land management are numerous and a complex yet flexible model like POSSUM can give important insight into decision making.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kruse NAS, Younger PL

Editor(s): Rapantova, N; Hrkal, Z

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 10th International Conference on Mine Water and the Environment

Year of Conference: 2008

Pages: 453-455

Publisher: International Mine Water Association

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item