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Time-scale issues in the remediation of pervasively-contaminated groundwaters at abandoned mine sites

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul Younger


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Groundwater bodies in abandoned deep mine workings or perched within waste rock heaps or backfill are often pervasively contaminated with ecotoxic metals. Effective remediation of such groundwaters requires the interception and treatment (by passive or active means) of virtually the entire flow of groundwater. Design of remedial interventions has to be based on an adequate conceptualization of time-scale issues concerning the generation and dissipation of metal loadings and acidity. Combined laboratory, field and modelling studies of a number of mined systems are revealing the relative importance of geochemical attenuation and hydraulic flushing processes in determining the temporal evolution of groundwater quality at abandoned mine sites. Of particular importance in the short term is the flushing from the system of the products of the dissolution of hydroxy-sulphate salts, which are taken into solution during flooding of mines or waste rock repositories. In the longer term, the interplay between sources of acidity and alkalinity is seen to be the dominant factor. General lessons that can be drawn from these studies are well illustrated by the early evidence of substantial natural attenuation occurring at Lindsay Colliery, South Wales, which was flooded in 1998-99.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Younger PL, Banwart SA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: IAHS-AISH Publication

Year: 2002

Volume: 275

Pages: 585-592

ISSN (print): 0144-7815

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: IAHS Press