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Historical pollution variability from abandoned mine sites, Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, New South Wales, Australia

Abstract.

Core and surface sediments from the Tonalli River, a tributary of the artificial lake, Lake Burragorang, in the Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales, Australia, were studied to evaluate the spatio-temporal distribution of pollutants from the Yerranderie silver–lead–zinc mine site, abandoned in the late 1920s. A sediment core was collected in the mouth of the Tonalli River, at its junction with Lake Burragorang, and surface sediment samples were collected in the Tonalli River and its tributaries. The concentrations of Pb, As, Zn, Cu, Cd, Hg and Ag in the sediments were determined by ICP-MS and ICP-AES techniques. Temporal variability of metal concentrations was established through 210Pb dating of the core sediments and compared with published historical records, rainfall records and bushfire data. Metal concentrations in core sediments showed an overall increase around the year 1950 as well as increases coincident with heavy rainfall. Spatially, metal concentrations were up to 400 times the guideline limit around mine sites but decreased rapidly with distance downstream of the mines.

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Harrison, J., Heijnis, H. & Caprarelli, G. Historical pollution variability from abandoned mine sites, Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, New South Wales, Australia. Env Geol 43, 680–687 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00254-002-0687-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00254-002-0687-8

  • 210Pb dating Pollution Sediments Trace metals Australia New South Wales Tonalli River Yerranderie Galena mining