Effects and quantification of acid runoff from sulfide-bearing rock deposited during construction of Highway E18, Norway

Applied Geochemistry
By:  and 



The Highway E18 between the cities of Grimstad and Kristiansand, southern Norway, constructed in the period 2006–2009, cuts through sulfide-bearing rock. The geology of this area is dominated by slowly-weathering gneiss and granites, and oxidation of fresh rock surfaces can result in acidification of surface water. Sulfide-containing rock waste from excavations during construction work was therefore deposited in three waste rock deposits off-site. The deposits consist of 630,000–2,360,000 metric tons of waste rock material. Shell sand and limestone gravel were added in layers in adequate amounts to mitigate initial acid runoff in one of the deposits. The shell sand addition was not adequate in the two others. The pH in the effluents from these two was reduced from 4.9–6.5 to 4.0–4.6, and Al concentrations increased from below 0.4 mg/L to 10–20 mg/L. Stream concentrations of trace metals increased by a factor of 25–400, highest for Ni, and then in decreasing order for Co, Mn, Cd, Zn and Cu. Concentrations of As, Cr and Fe remained unchanged. Ratios of Co/Ni and Cd/Zn indicate that the metal sources for these pair of metals are sphalerite and pyrite, respectively. Based on surveys and established critical limits for Al, surface waters downstream became toxic to fish and invertebrates. The sulfur release rates were remarkably stable in the monitoring period at all three sites. Annual sulfur release was 0.1–0.4% of the total amount of sulfur in the deposit, indicating release periods of 250–800 years. Precipitates of Al-hydroxysulfates, well-known from mining sites, were found at the base of the deposits, in streams and also along the ocean shore-line. The effects of added neutralization agents in the deposits and in treatment areas downstream gradually decreased, as indicated by reduced stream pH over time. Active measures are needed to avoid harmful ecological effects in the future.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects and quantification of acid runoff from sulfide-bearing rock deposited during construction of Highway E18, Norway
Series title Applied Geochemistry
DOI 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2014.06.016
Volume 62
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 14 p.
First page 150
Last page 163
Country Norway
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