2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 261-10
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


MAJ, Sarah K.1, LOPEZ, Dina L.2, KRUSE, Natalie A.3 and BOWMAN, Jennifer R.3, (1)Geological Sciences, Ohio University, 316 Clippinger Laboratories, Athens, OH 45701, (2)Geological Sciences, Ohio Univ, 316 Clippinger Laboratories, Athens, OH 45701, (3)Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, smaj91@gmail.com

Southeastern Ohio is heavily affected by acid mine drainage due to the oxidation of sulfide minerals found in coal, most commonly pyrite, from improperly abandoned underground and surface mines. This study characterizes the behavior of nutrients in the water column of AMD impacted streams. Nutrients are needed for the growth and quality of a stream’s primary producer population. Due to co-precipitation and adsorption with metal hydroxides, specifically iron hydroxide, the nutrient pool is limited in AMD impacted streams. Low nutrient concentrations have been suggested as one of the causes that limit and slow biologic recovery. Three streams in Southeastern Ohio are being studied; Hewett Fork, an AMD remediated stream in the Raccoon Creek watershed, the Majestic Mine AMD discharge in the Monday Creek watershed, without chemical remediation, and Brushy Creek, a stream that is unaffected by acid mine drainage. Preliminary results of water samples show that the mine seeps entering into Hewett Fork have high concentrations of acidity and sulfate. The acidity concentration in Hewett Fork decreases after treatment, but is affected by other acidic inputs downstream. The sulfate concentrations are seen to decrease downstream as alkalinity concentrations increase and acidity concentrations decrease. Also, at the mine seeps entering into Hewett Fork, nitrate and phosphate concentrations are low. The phosphate concentrations remain low continually downstream with some minor variations. Nitrate concentrations are seen to increase mildly along the flow path of Hewett Fork. By continuing to analyze concentrations of phosphate, nitrate, and sulfate in stream sediments and water throughout the duration of one year, this study will attempt to understand the governing physical and chemical restraints on the co-precipitation and adsorption of nutrients by sediments in AMD impacted waters.