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Scientific Investigations Report 2004–5236
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Hydrogeochemical Studies of Historical Mining Areas in the Humboldt River Basin and Adjacent Areas, Northern Nevada

By J. Thomas Nash

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The study area comprises the Humboldt River Basin and adjacent areas, with emphasis on mining areas relatively close to the Humboldt River. The basin comprises about 16,840 mi2 or 10,800,000 acres. The mineral resources of the Humboldt Basin have been investigated by many scientists over the past 100 years, but only recently has our knowledge of regional geology and mine geology been applied to the understanding and evaluation of mining effects on water and environmental quality. The investigations reported here apply some of the techniques and perspectives developed in the Abandoned Mine Lands Initiative (AMLI) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a program of integrated geological-hydrological-biological-chemical studies underway in the Upper Animas River watershed in Colorado and the Boulder River watershed in, Montana. The goal of my studies of sites and districts is to determine the character of mining-related contamination that is actively or potentially a threat to water quality and to estimate the potential for natural attenuation of that contamination. These geology-based studies and recommendations differ in matters of emphasis and data collection from the biology-based assessments that are the cornerstone of environmental regulations.

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Posted November 2005

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