Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 214, Issue 1–4, pp 423–434 | Cite as

Geochemistry of the Hyperalkaline Gorka Pit Lake (pH > 13) in the Chrzanow Region, Southern Poland

  • Mariusz CzopEmail author
  • Jacek Motyka
  • Ondra Sracek
  • Marek Szuwarzyński


The Gorka pit lake was formed in an inactive Jurassic limestone quarry after cessation of open-pit dewatering. The main problem of the water quality in this area is linked to a large volume of extremely alkaline leachate disposed in the flooded quarry. The lake is meromictic due to a large density contrast between shallow and deep water layers. Water in the lake is of the Na–CO3–OH type, pH is in the range from 11.5 to 13.3, and there are high concentrations of sulfate and several toxic elements (Al, As, Cr, Mo, P, and V). The chemical composition of the extremely alkaline leachate was formed as a result of the groundwater interaction with the industrial red mud wastes containing 5–10 wt.% of sodium carbonate. There is a trend of increasing concentrations and pH values with depth, mainly due to the in-gassing of atmospheric CO2 into the surface layer and due to density stratification in the water column. Similar stratification is observed in groundwater wells around the lake. High dissolved concentrations of oxyanionic contaminants such as As, Cr, and V are caused by their high mobility and desorption under extremely alkaline conditions. In spite of reducing conditions at the bottom of the lake, caused by high concentrations of dumped organic matter, sulfate behaves conservatively because sulfate reducing bacteria do not survive in this pH range.


Hyperalkaline lake Pit lake Red mud wastes Toxic elements Sulfate reduction 



This work was supported by research program no. of the Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Protection, Department of Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology, AGH-University of Science and Technology, Krakow. We thank an anonymous reviewer for useful suggestions and editorial changes, which improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariusz Czop
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jacek Motyka
    • 1
  • Ondra Sracek
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marek Szuwarzyński
    • 4
  1. 1.Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Protection, Department of Hydrogeology and Engineering GeologyAGH-University of Science and TechnologyKrakowPoland
  2. 2.OPV s.r.o. Protection of Groundwater LtdPraha 6Czech Republic
  3. 3.Department of Geology, Faculty of SciencePalacký UniversityOlomoucCzech Republic
  4. 4.Municipal Council of TrzebiniaTrzebiniaPoland

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