Hydrochemical Impacts of Limestone Rock Mining
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- Naja, G.M., Rivero, R., Davis, S.E. et al. Water Air Soil Pollut (2011) 217: 95. doi:10.1007/s11270-010-0570-2
Hydrochemical impacts of shallow rock industrial-scale mining activities close to sensitive constructed and natural wetlands were investigated. The shallow surficial groundwater and surface water in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) were characterized. The chemical composition of sulfate and chloride in groundwater increased with depth. The average concentration of chloride averaged 182 mg L−1 at 6 m deep and increased gradually to 1,010 mg L−1 at 15 m deep, 1,550 mg L−1 at 30 m deep to reach 7,800 mg L−1 at 60 m deep. Comparatively, the surface water chemical composition in the surrounding areas showed much lower cationic and anionic charge. The specific conductivity and total dissolved solids of surface water in canals (close to the mining operations) are <900 μS cm−1 and <600 mg L−1, respectively, which should be compared to groundwater quality in wells from the EAA area (>2,000 μS cm−1 and >1,000 mg L−1, respectively). A steady-state groundwater fluid flow and transient solute transport modeling exercise was conducted to estimate surface/groundwater interactions. The modeled solute in surface water was transported downgradient through groundwaters, migrated approximately 30 m from the source area (after 5 years of operation), and needed more than 116 years to dissipate. An upward transport was also identified whereby chloride and sulfate, naturally present in deeper groundwaters, migrated approximately 200 m (after 1 year of mining) into the pristine shallower aquifer and reached the surface water with a concentration equaling 80% of that in the rock mining pit.