Processes controlling trace-metal transport in surface water contaminated by acid-mine drainage in the Ducktown Mining District, Tennessee

Giehyeon Lee, Gunter Faure

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Former mining activities lasting 140 years in the Ducktown Mining District, Tennessee, USA, has contaminated the streams draining the district with acid-mine drainage (AMD). North Potato Creek and its major tributary, Burra Burra Creek, are two of the most heavily AMD-impacted streams in the district. The removal of dissolved metals from the water in these creeks is largely attributable to the sorption of Cu, Zn, Co, Al, and Mn on suspended hydroxide precipitates of Fe. The fraction of trace metals remaining in solution decreases with increasing pH in the sequence Pb<Cu<Zn<Co. The concentration of Fe in solution also decreases with increasing pH due to the formation of ferric hydroxide precipitates which accounted for up to 81.4% by weight of the total suspended sediment. The concentration of suspended sediment substantially decreases as the water of North Potato Creek flows through a large settling basin, where 1.3 (±0.3)×106 kg/year of trace-metal-laden suspended sediment would be annually deposited. In spite of this attempt to purify it, the water discharged into the river is acidic (pH 3.6) and still contains high concentrations of dissolved trace metals, which would resorb on to suspended sediment and be ultimately transported to a downstream reservoir, Ocoee No. 3 Lake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-232
Number of pages12
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Nov 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution

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