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Circular 1328

Understanding Contaminants Associated with Mineral Deposits

Edited by Philip L. Verplanck

From the Introduction

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (21.3 MB)

Interdisciplinary studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have resulted in substantial progress in understanding the processes that control
• the release of metals and acidic water from inactive mines and mineralized areas,
• the transport of metals and acidic water to streams, and
• the fate and effect of metals and acidity on downstream ecosystems.

The potential environmental effects associated with abandoned and inactive mines, resulting from the complex interaction of a variety of chemical and physical processes, is an area of study that is important to the USGS Mineral Resources Program. Understanding the processes contributing to the environmental effects of abandoned and inactive mines is also of interest to a wide range of stakeholders, including both those responsible for managing lands with historically mined areas and those responsible for anticipating environmental consequences of future mining operations. The recently completed (2007) USGS project entitled “Process Studies of Contaminants Associated with Mineral Deposits” focused on abandoned and inactive mines and mineralized areas in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona, where there are thousands of abandoned mines.

Results from these studies provide new information that advances our understanding of the physical and biogeochemical processes causing the mobilization, transport, reaction, and fate of potentially toxic elements (including aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, and zinc) in mineralized near-surface systems and their effects on aquatic and riparian habitat. These interdisciplinary studies provide the basis for scientific decisionmaking and remedial action by local, State, and Federal agencies charged with minimizing the effects of potentially toxic elements on the environment.

View the Circular PDF file to read the full Introduction.

Version 1.0

Posted October 2008

For more information concerning this publication, contact:

Team Chief Scientist,
USGS Central Mineral Resources
Box 25046, MS 973
Denver, CO 80225

Or visit the Central Mineral Resources Team Web site at:

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Verplanck, P.L., ed., 2008, Understanding contaminants associated with mineral deposits: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1328, 96 p.


Introduction by Philip L. Verplanck

Part 1—Laboratory- and Site-Scale Studies of the Sources and Release of Metals

Part 2—Basin-Scale Studies of the Sources and Release of Metals

Part 3—Postremediation Recovery of Stream Ecosystems

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