USGS

 

Contamination of Wells Completed in the Roubidoux Aquifer by Abandoned Zinc and Lead Mines, Ottawa County, Oklahoma

Scott Christenson

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Water-Resources Investigations Report 954150

Prepared in cooperation with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board

This report is also available as a pdf.


Abstract

The Roubidoux aquifer in Ottawa County Oklahoma is used extensively as a source of water for public supplies, commerce, industry, and rural water districts. Water in the Roubidoux aquifer in eastern Ottawa County has relatively low dissolved- solids concentrations (less than 200 mg/L) with calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate as the major ions. The Boone Formation is stratigraphically above the Roubidoux aquifer and is the host rock for zinc and lead sulfide ores, with the richest deposits located in the vicinity of the City of Picher. Mining in what became known as the Picher mining district began in the early 1900s and continued until about 1970. The water in the abandoned zinc and lead mines contains high concentrations of calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, sulfate, fluoride, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, and zinc. Water from the abandoned mines is a potential source of contamination to the Roubidoux aquifer and to wells completed in the Roubidoux aquifer.

Water samples were collected from wells completed in the Roubidoux aquifer in the Picher mining district and from wells outside the mining district to determine if 10 public supply wells in the mining district are contaminated. The chemical analyses indicate that at least 7 of the 10 public supply wells in the Picher mining district are contaminated by mine water. Application of the Mann-Whitney test indicated that the concentrations of some chemical constituents that are indicators of mine-water contamination are different in water samples from wells in the mining area as compared to wells outside the mining area. Application of the Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed that the concentrations of some chemical constituents that are indicators of mine-water contamination were higher in current (1992-93) data than in historic (1981-83) data, except for pH, which was lower in current than in historic data. pH and sulfate, alkalinity, bicarbonate, magnesium, iron, and tritium concentrations consistently indicate that the Cardin, Commerce 1, Commerce 3, Picher 2, Picher 3, Picher 4, and Quapaw 2 wells are contaminated.

Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and scope

Acknowledgments

Description of the Study Area

Definition of the Roubidoux Aquifer

Geohydrology

Stratigraphy

Structural Geology

Hydraulic Properties

Potentiometric Surface

Well Construction

History of Abandoned Zinc and Lead Mines

Background Water Quality

Roubidoux Aquifer

Abandoned Zinc and Lead Mines

Comparison Between Water in the Roubidoux Aquifer and the Abandoned Mines

Water-Quality Field Investigation

Investigation Design

Field Procedures

Quality-Assurance Sampling

Blank Samples

Duplicate Samples

Analysis of Environmental Data

Descriptive Statistics

Comparison of Picher Mining District to Background Water Quality

pH

Alkalinity

Calcium

Magnesium

Bicarbonate

Sulfate

Cadmium

Copper

Iron

Lead

Manganese

Nickel

Zinc

Comparison of Current to Historic Water Quality

pH

Alkalinity

Calcium

Magnesium

Bicarbonate

Sulfate

Cadmium

Copper

Iron

Lead

Manganese

Nickel

Zinc

Tritium Concentration

Contamination of Wells by Mine Water

Comparison of Produced Water to Water-Quality Standards

Summary

References

Appendixes

1. Physical properties and concentrations of major ions and trace elements in water samples from wells

2. Concentrations of major ions and trace elements in quality-assurance blank samples


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For more information about water resources in Minnesota is available on the World Wide Web at http://ok.water.usgs.gov.




U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Persistent URL: http://pubs.water.usgs.gov/wri954150
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Last modified: Thursday, September 01 2005, 02:25:02 PM
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