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North Star Tracer


North Star Tracer

Study Area: Upper Animas River Watershed, San Juan County, Colorado
Period of Project: September 2001 - September 2002
Project Number: CO429
Project Chief: Kirby Wynn
Cooperator: Animas River Stakeholders Group; San Juan County, Colorado


For the prevention of water infiltration into the backside of inactive mines, hydrologic controls have been recognized as a cost-effective remediation measure for reduction of heavy-metal loads in the upper Animas River watershed. At a mine site in lower Mineral Creek, a perennial stream flows down Belcher Gulch from the Sultan Peak area (originating on the San Juan National Forest) and crosses over the underground workings of the North Star Mine in lower Belcher Gulch.  To determine if surface water in Belcher Gulch might be infiltrating into the backside of the North Star Mine, three tracer-injection tests will be performed to pinpoint the location of the water infiltration.


  1. Determine whether Belcher Gulch water is infiltrating into the backside of the North Star Mine.
  2. Determine where along Belcher Gulch the infiltration is occurring into the North Star Mine.
  3. Determine the possible connection to other inactive mine sites in the area.
  4. Determine the ground-water residence times and characteristics of the tracer recovery curves from the injection point to the North Star adit.

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