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Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5265

Prepared in Cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Hydrogeochemical Investigation of the Standard Mine Vicinity, Upper Elk Creek Basin, Colorado

By Andrew H. Manning, Philip L. Verplanck, M. Alisa Mast, and Richard B. Wanty

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Scientific Investigations Report
2007-5265 PDF (55.8 MB)

Ground- and surface-water samples were collected in the vicinity of the Standard Mine in west-central Colorado in order to characterize the local ground-water flow system, determine metal concentrations in local ground water, and better understand factors controlling the discharge of metal-rich waters from the mine. Samples were analyzed for major ions and trace elements, stable isotopes of hydrogen (2H/1H) and oxygen (18O/16O), strontium isotopes, and tritium and dissolved noble gases (including helium isotopes) for tritium/helium-3 age dating.

The Standard fault itself is probably the main path­way of ground-water flow from the shallow subsurface to the mine workings. Tracer data sug­gest that ground water entering into and discharging from the Standard Mine was largely composed of water <1 yr old.

Sulfide-rich mineralized rock is the primary control on dissolved metal concentrations and pH in ground water in the Standard Mine vicinity. The lowest pH and highest metal con­centrations typically are found in discharge from waste-rock piles. Metal concentrations in Elk Creek waters commonly exceeded water quality standards for zinc, lead, cadmium, copper, and manganese. Metal concentrations in samples collected from underground workings in the Standard Mine were generally higher than in samples collected at aboveground sites located outside of sulfide-rich areas.

Version 1.0

Posted May 2008

Suggested citation:

Manning, A.H., Verplanck, P.L., Mast, M.A., and Wanty, R.B., 2008, Hydrogeochemical investigation of the Standard Mine vicinity, upper Elk Creek Basin, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007–5265, 130 p.




Site Description

Location and Climate


Mining Activities

Previous Hydrogeologic Studies



Study Approach

Description of Methods

Major Ion and Trace Element Chemistry

Strontium Isotopes

Deuterium and Oxygen-18

Ground-Water Age Dating

Sample Collection and Analysis

Major Ion and Trace Element Chemistry

Strontium Isotopes

Deuterium and Oxygen-18


Dissolved Gases

Carbon Isotopes

Quality Assurance and Quality Control


Survey of Ground-Water Discharge Locations and Sample Site Selection

Underground Observations and Sample Site Selection

Field Parameters

Task 1

Task 2

Task 3

Major Ion and Trace Element Chemistry

Task 1

Task 2

Task 3

Strontium Isotopes

Deuterium and Oxygen-18

Task 1

Task 3

Tritium and Noble Gases

Task 2

Task 3



Distribution of Ground-Water Discharge and Potential Geologic Controls on Flow

Ground-Water Residence Times

Controls on Ground-Water Chemistry

Controls on Metal Concentrations

Controls on Major Ion Chemistry

Controls on Standard Mine Water Chemistry

Controls on Elk Creek Water Chemistry



Appendix 1. Sampling and Analysis Plan

Appendix 2. Sampling Information and Field Parameters

Appendix 3. Concentrations of Major Ions and Selected Metals

Appendix 4. Results of ICP–MS Analyses

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