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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1034

Prepared for the Bureau of Land Management

Review of Samples of Sediments, Tailings, and Waters Adjacent to the Cactus Queen Gold Mine, Kern County, California

By James J. Rytuba, Christopher S. Kim, and Daniel N. Goldstein


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The Cactus Queen Mine is located in the western Mojave Desert in Kern County, California. The Cactus Queen gold-silver (Au-Ag) deposit is similar to other Au-Ag deposits hosted in Miocene volcanic rocks that consist of silicic domes and associated flows, pyroclastic rocks, and subvolcanic intrusions. The volcanic rocks were emplaced onto a basement of Mesozoic silicic intrusive rocks. A part of the Cactus Queen Mine is located on Federal land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Staff from the BLM initially sampled the mine area and documented elevated concentrations of arsenic (As) in tailings and sediment. BLM then requested that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with Chapman University, measure and characterize As and other geochemical constituents in sediment, tailings, and waters on the part of the mine on Federal lands. This report is made in response to the request by the BLM, the lead agency mandated to conduct a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) - Removal Site Investigation (RSI). The RSI applies to the potential removal of As-contaminated mine waste from the Cactus Queen Mine as a means of reducing As release and exposure to humans and biota.

This report summarizes data obtained from field sampling of sediments, mine tailings, and surface waters at the Cactus Queen Mine on January 27, 2008. Our results provide a preliminary assessment of the sources of As and associated chemical constituents that could potentially impact humans and biota.

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For additional information:
Contact Information, Western Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center, Menlo Park Office
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 901
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3591

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Suggested citation:

Rytuba, J.J., Kim, C.S., and Goldstein, D.G., 2011, Review of samples of sediment, tailings, and waters adjacent to the Cactus Queen gold mine, Kern County, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1034, 34 p.



Mining History and Geology

Sample Locations and Methods

Field Sampling Methods

Analytical Methods




References Cited

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