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Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5248

Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5248

Principal Locations of Metal Loading from Flood-Plain Tailings, Lower Silver Creek, Utah, April 2004

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Prepared in cooperation with
Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Quality

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


Because of the historical deposition of mill tailings in flood plains, the process of determining total maximum daily loads for streams in an area like the Park City mining district of Utah is complicated. Understanding the locations of metal loading to Silver Creek and the relative importance of these locations is necessary to make science-based decisions. Application of tracer-injection and synoptic-sampling techniques provided a means to quantify and rank the many possible source areas. A mass-loading study was conducted along a 10,000-meter reach of Silver Creek, Utah, in April 2004. Mass-loading profiles based on spatially detailed discharge and chemical data indicated five principal locations of metal loading. These five locations contributed more than 60 percent of the cadmium and zinc loads to Silver Creek along the study reach and can be considered locations where remediation efforts could have the greatest effect upon improvement of water quality in Silver Creek.


Purpose and Scope
Description of the Study Area
Previous Work
Methods for Mass-Loading Approach
Tracer Injection and Synoptic Sampling
Load Calculation
Sample Classification
Discharge from Tracer Dilution
Chemical Variation of Synoptic Samples
Inflow Samples
Stream Samples
Principal Locations of Mass Loading
Upstream from the Study Reach
Upper Meadow Tailings Piles
Lower Meadow Tailings Piles
Upstream from Pivotal Promontory Access Road
Waste-Water Treatment Plant and Old Big 4 Mill Tailings
Other Sources
Comparison between 2002 and 2004
Summary and Conclusions
References Cited

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Send questions or comments about this report to the author, Briant A. Kimball, (801) 908-5047

For more information about USGS activities in Utah, visit the USGS Utah Water Science Center home page .

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