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Integrated geophysical and geochemical study on AMD generation at the Haveri Au–Cu mine tailings, SW Finland

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Abstract

The Haveri tailings area contains 1.5 Mt of sulfide-bearing waste from the Au–Cu mine that operated during 1942–1961. Geophysical and geochemical methods were used to evaluate and characterize the generation of acid mine drainage (AMD). Correlations were examined among the electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) data, the total sulfide content and concentrations of sulfide-bound metals (Cu, Co, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn) of tailings samples, and the resistivity and geochemistry of surface water. The resulting geophysical–geochemical model defines an area in the vadose tailings, where a low resistivity anomaly (<10 Ohm m) is correlated with the highest sulfide content, extensive sulfide oxidation and low pH (average 3.1). The physical and geochemical conditions, resulting from the oxidation of the sulfide minerals, suggest that the low resistivity anomaly is associated with acidic and metal-rich porewater (i.e., AMD). The lower resistivity values in the saturated zone of the central impoundment suggest the formation of a plume of AMD. The natural subsoil layer (silt and clay) and the bedrock surface below the tailings area were well mapped from the ERT data. The detected fracture zones of the bedrock that could work as leakage pathways for AMD were consistent with previous geological studies. The integrated methodology of the study offers a promising approach to fast and reliable monitoring of areas of potential AMD generation and its subsurface movement over large areas (ca. 9 ha). This methodology could be helpful in planning drill core sampling locations for geochemical and mineralogical analysis, groundwater sampling, and choosing and monitoring remedial programs.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Janne Kaukolinna (Geoenvironmental Technology Research Group, Helsinki University of Technology) for his valuable assistance in the geophysical field work. We are grateful to Prof. Vladimir Shevnin and Dr. A. A. Bobachev from Moscow State University for providing the IPI2Win and X2IPI software. This study was supported by the National Council on Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACYT) (Placencia-Gómez E) and by the Finnish Graduate School in Geology (Parviainen A), and the experimental work was funded under the RAMAS project of the EU Life ENVIRONMENT program (Risk Assessment and Risk Management Procedure for Arsenic in the Tampere Region).

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Correspondence to Edmundo Placencia-Gómez.

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Placencia-Gómez, E., Parviainen, A., Hokkanen, T. et al. Integrated geophysical and geochemical study on AMD generation at the Haveri Au–Cu mine tailings, SW Finland. Environ Earth Sci 61, 1435–1447 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-010-0459-9

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Keywords

  • Tailings
  • Acid mine drainage
  • Sulfide oxidation
  • Electrical resistivity
  • Haveri
  • Finland