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Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5006

Quantification of Mass Loading to Strawberry Creek near the Gilt Edge Mine, Lawrence County, South Dakota, June 2003

By Briant A. Kimball, Robert L. Runkel, Katherine Walton-Day, and Joyce E. Williamson


Although remedial actions have taken place at the Gilt Edge mine in the Black Hills of South Dakota, questions remain about a possible hydrologic connection along shear zones between some of the pit lakes at the mine site and Strawberry Creek. Spatially detailed chemical sampling of stream and inflow sites occurred during low-flow conditions in June 2003 as part of a mass-loading study by the U.S. Geological Survey to investigate the possible connection of shear zones to the stream. Stream discharge was calculated by tracer dilution; discharge increased by 25.3 liters per second along the study reach, with 9.73 liters per second coming from three tributaries and the remaining increase coming from small springs and dispersed, subsurface inflow. Chemical differences among inflow samples were distinguished by cluster analysis and indicated that inflows ranged from those unaffected by interaction with mine wastes to those that could have been affected by drainage from pit lakes. Mass loading to the stream from several inflows resulted in distinct chemical changes in stream water along the study reach. Mass loading of the mine-related metals, including cadmium, copper, nickel, and zinc, principally occurred from the discharge from the Gilt Edge mine, and those metals were substantially attenuated downstream. Secondary loadings of metals occurred in the vicinity of the Oro Fino shaft and from two more inflows about 200 m downstream from there. These are both locations where shear zones intersect the stream and may indicate loading associatedwith these zones. Loading downstream from the Oro Fino shaft had a unique chemical character, high in base-metal concentrations, that could indicate an association with water in the pit lakes. The loading from these downstream sources, however, is small in comparison to that from the initial mine discharge and does not appear to have a substantial impact on Strawberry Creek.

This report is contained in the following file:

SIR2006_5006.pdf (2.0 mb)

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Methods and Approach

Tracer Injections and Stream Discharge

Synoptic Sampling and Analytical Methods

Constituent Loads

Cluster Analysis

Field-Scale Experiment


Chemical Characterization of Synoptic Samples



Quantification of Mass Loading

Loading of Sulfate and Other Major Constituents

Loading of Iron

Loading of Mine-Related Metals

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

Send questions or comments about this report to the author, Briant Kimball, at, 801.908.5047.

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