Quantification of Changes in Metal Loading from Storm Runoff, Merse River (Tuscany, Italy)
The Merse River in Tuscany is affected by mine drainage and the weathering of mine wastes along several kilometres of its catchment. The metal loading to the stream was quantified by defining detailed profiles of discharge and concentration, using tracer-dilution and synoptic-sampling techniques. During the course of a field experiment to evaluate metal loading to the Merse, such data were obtained for both storm and pre-storm conditions, providing a unique opportunity for comparison. Iron, Cu, and Mn were chosen to illustrate changes resulting from the storm. The total-recoverable load of Fe increased 21-fold, while loads of Cu and Mn increased by 8- and 7-fold, respectively, during the storm runoff. The increases most likely resulted from flushing particulates from near the stream, resuspension of colloidal material from the streambed, and increased ground-water inflow to the stream. The increases in Cu and Mn loads results from their association with colloids. It is possible that in-stream colloids had relatively more Cu than Mn, while near-stream colloids had relatively more Mn. Each of the metals also increased as a result of increased ground-water discharge during the storm. Despite great increases in load, the filterable concentrations of these metals did not increase substantially, remaining below chronic levels of toxicity.
KeywordsMetal loading Storm runoff Colloids Mine drainage Tracer injection Italy
This work was supported by Regione Toscana and the US Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program.
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