Environmental Geology

, 57:397 | Cite as

Impact of AMD on water quality in critical watershed in the Hudson River drainage basin: Phillips Mine, Hudson Highlands, New York

  • Sivajini GilchristEmail author
  • Alexander Gates
  • Zoltan Szabo
  • Paul J. Lamothe
Original Article


A sulfur and trace element enriched U–Th-laced tailings pile at the abandoned Phillips Mine in Garrison, New York, releases acid mine drainage (AMD, generally pH < 3, minimum pH 1.78) into the first-order Copper Mine Brook (CMB) that drains into the Hudson River. The pyrrhotite-rich Phillips Mine is located in the Highlands region, a critical water source for the New York metro area. A conceptual model for derivation/dissolution, sequestration, transport and dilution of contaminants is proposed. The acidic water interacts with the tailings, leaching and dissolving the trace metals. AMD evaporation during dry periods concentrates solid phase trace metals and sulfate, forming melanterite (FeSO4·7H2O) on sulfide-rich tailings surfaces. Wet periods dissolve these concentrates/precipitates, releasing stored acidity and trace metals into the CMB. Sediments along CMB are enriched in iron hydroxides which act as sinks for metals, indicating progressive sequestration that correlates with dilution and sharp rise in pH when mine water mixes with tributaries. Seasonal variations in metal concentrations were partly attributable to dissolution of the efflorescent salts with their sorbed metals and additional metals from surging acidic seepage induced by precipitation.


Acid mine drainage Pyrrhotite–pyrite oxidation Melanterite Goethite Heavy metals 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the analytical support provided by USGS, Denver, CO; laboratory assistance and XRD support by Dr Matthew Gorring, Montclair State University; SEM–EDS support by Dr Marian Lupulescu, New York State Museum, and Dr David Bailey, Hamilton College. Gratitude is also extended to the following individuals who provided field and analytical assistance with the research: Dr Alan Gilchrist, Dr Yuxin Wu and Sweeta Chauhan. The Dorr Foundation and the J. M. Kaplan Fund granted to Dr Alexander Gates provided financial support for this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sivajini Gilchrist
    • 1
  • Alexander Gates
    • 1
  • Zoltan Szabo
    • 2
  • Paul J. Lamothe
    • 3
  1. 1.Earth and Environmental SciencesRutgers UniversityNewarkUSA
  2. 2.US Geological SurveyW. TrentonUSA
  3. 3.US Geological Survey, Denver Federal CenterDenverUSA

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