Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 11, Issue 3–4, pp 127–135 | Cite as

Heavy metal contamination in the Tanat Valley, North Wales

  • Ronald Fuge
  • Catherine F. Paveley
  • Matthew T. Holdham


The Tanat Valley area of North Powys, Wales, has a long history of metalliferous mining, the most active period of extraction being during the 18th century, while the largest mine, Llangynog, was in production until 1899. Ore minerals found in the area include galena (PbS), sphalerite (ZnS) and chalcopyrite (CuFeS2). Below the Llangynog mine the valley is heavily contaminated with elevated levels of Pb, Zn, Cu and Cd in soils and river sediments. On the valley floor subsoil metal levels frequently greatly exceed those of topsoils which probably reflects contamination of the floodplain during the peak period of mining. High levels of base metals in the stream sediments some 2 km downstream of the mine area are thought to be due to river erosion of the contaminated bank material. Contamination derived from the old mine tips results in extremely high levels of heavy metals in soils and stream sediments in the immediate vicinty of the old workings. Some metal contamination is also thought to derive from previously undetected mineralisation.


Heavy Metal Geochemistry 18th Century Base Metal Mine Area 
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Copyright information

© Sciences and Technology Letters 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald Fuge
    • 1
  • Catherine F. Paveley
    • 2
  • Matthew T. Holdham
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Applied Geochemistry, Institute of Earth StudiesUniversity College of WalesAberystwythWales
  2. 2.Department of Environmental BiologyBath College of Higher EducationNewton ParkEngland

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