Watershed Contamination from Hard Rock
Substances Hydrology Program)
Study Area: Mining-Impacted watersheds in Colorado, Montana,
Period of Project: Ongoing
Project Number: 9GZ00
Project Chief: Briant Kimball
Cooperator:Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, State of Colorado
Since 1986, the USGS Hard-Rock Mining Toxic-Substances
Hydrology Project has focused on metal transport in streams
affected by mining.
The approach is to study chemical processes within a
hydrologic context, using a two-step approach:
- First, the USGS used instream experimentation to provide
data about the processes affecting metals.
- Second, the USGS used the resulting data sets to develop
and apply solute transport models to help quantify rates and
Tracer-injection studies in St. Kevin Gulch, near Leadville,
Colorado, helped the USGS design methods to characterize
loading from mining activities on a watershed scale.
Tracer-injection studies were done in 1995, in support of the
planning needs of ederal Land Management Agencies, and as part
of the USGS Abandoned Mine Land Initiative.
Additional information and project results are available at:
- To characterize the instream chemical processes that
control the transport and transformation of metals downstream
from mine drainage.
- To use tracer-injection methods to evaluate remediation
efforts in selected basins.
- To quantify the time and length scales of chemical and
hydrologic processes that affect the metals through development
of solute-transport models.
- To characterize the chemistry of colloids, sediment, and
bed sediments that are active in controlling the dissolved
concentrations of metals.