Mine Water and the Environment

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 93–99 | Cite as

Distribution of Organic Carbon in the Berkeley Pit Lake, Butte, Montana

  • Douglas CameronEmail author
  • Margery Willett
  • Licette Hammer
Technical Communication


The concentration of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the Berkeley pit lake water ranges from 2 to 4 mg/L, and is comparable to that of its inflow waters. On the dates sampled, the DOC concentrations decreased towards the surface of the lake, in a manner similar to the concentration of dissolved Fe. This may reflect adsorption of DOC onto newly formed ferric precipitates in the epilimnion of the lake. The total organic carbon (TOC) content of the lake sediment is 0.20 to 0.33%, and is on the low end of TOC in natural aquatic sediments. In contrast, the DOC concentrations of sediment pore waters are unusually high, ranging from 50 to 380 mg/L, and are much higher than DOC values of pore waters from typical marine or lacustrine sediments. The high DOC concentrations are explained by release of adsorbed organic carbon from ferric precipitates as they age and recrystallize, coupled with the relative scarcity of heterotrophic bacteria in the acidic and heavy metal-rich waters that would otherwise consume DOC through reduction of sulfate.


acid mine drainage characterization dissolved organic carbon pit lake pore water sediment 


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Copyright information

© IMWA Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Cameron
    • 1
    Email author
  • Margery Willett
    • 2
  • Licette Hammer
    • 3
  1. 1.Chemistry and Geochemistry DeptMontana TechButte, MT 59701USA
  2. 2.Klamath Community CollegeKlamath Falls, OR 97603USA
  3. 3.Montana Bureau of Mines and GeologyBillings, MT 59101

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