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Sulfur and Nitrogen Gases in the Vapor Streams from Ore Cyanidation Wastes at a Sharply Continental Climate, Western Siberia, Russia


The article presents the results of the study of the vapor streams from sulfide-containing tailings after gold mining by cyanidation (Ursk waste heaps, Kemerovo region, Russia). The gas survey of sulfur dioxide, dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl sulfoxide, carbon disulfide, and N-containing substances concentrations was carried out using a portable device GANK-4 on a series of profiles covering the waste heaps and the surrounding area with simultaneous measurement of temperatures in the air and soil. The concentration maps-schemes of the studied gases in the surface layer were constructed. The high positive correlation of gases between themselves is established, which indicates similar mechanisms of their formation. The electrical resistivity tomography determined the internal structure of the waste heap. Active “breathing” zones were identified in which the maximum fluctuations in the concentrations of sulfur, selenium, and nitrogen-containing compounds in the near-surface air layer were recorded. Such zones are marked with lower resistances in comparison with other areas on the geo-electric profiles. There is an inverse correlation between the resistivity of the tailings and its temperature and a direct correlation between the concentration of gas in the air and the temperature of the soil. High concentrations of CS2, the volatile gas compound of the second hazard class, were found in the concentrations that exceed 6–8 times the daily average norm. Further investigation of the mine tailings seasonal transformation with the production of toxic gases deserves special attention due to high environmental risks and poor knowledge of this problem. The oxidation of ore cyanidation wastes in summer and methylation in winter due to seasonal temperature fluctuation lead to production of gases of great concern including toxic СS2.

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The authors are grateful to the Assistant Editors for the editorial handling of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Nataliya Yurkevich.

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This research was funded by the Russian Science Foundation [19-17-00134].

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Yurkevich, N., Bortnikova, S., Abrosimova, N. et al. Sulfur and Nitrogen Gases in the Vapor Streams from Ore Cyanidation Wastes at a Sharply Continental Climate, Western Siberia, Russia. Water Air Soil Pollut 230, 307 (2019).

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  • Waste heap
  • Gas-vapor streams
  • Organic gases
  • Channels of infiltration
  • Micro-electrical resistivity tomography