Southeastern Section - 64th Annual Meeting (19–20 March 2015)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM


SCHLEMM, Tyler S., Geosciences, Austin Peay State University, 601 College Street, Clarksville, TN 37044,

Prior to regulations set forth by Congress and the EPA in the mid-twentieth century, businesses and mining operations which produced potentially hazardous byproducts were free to dispose of their waste unreservedly. Historically, this waste would simply be abandoned at a site of production, such as a blast furnace. Laurel Furnace in present day Montgomery Bell State Park was one such site and operated as the primary source of pig iron for Middle Tennessee in 1815. In operation through 1855 and producing 660 tons of pig iron annually, waste such as massive slag heaps were deposited on location. Slag from a blast furnace contains primarily silicon dioxide, metal oxides, sulfides and various transition metals; deposited in concentration, this waste may have a significant impact on soil chemistry several centuries later. Chemical analysis of subsoil cores in the vicinity of Laurel Furnace reveal areas of unusually high concentrations of iron, zinc, magnesium and manganese cations. Geographical interpolation of this data reveals insights into the practices of this mining operation, as well as current impacts on the local environment.