Transport and sediment–water partitioning of trace metals in acid mine drainage: an example from the abandoned Kwangyang Au–Ag mine area, South Korea

Abstract

Transport and sediment–water partitioning of trace metals (Cr, Co, Fe, Pb, Cu, Ni, Zn, Cd) in acid mine drainage were studied in two creeks in the Kwangyang Au–Ag mine area, southern part of Korea. Chemical analysis of stream waters and the weak acid (0.1 N HCl) extraction, strong acid (HF–HNO3–HClO4) extraction, and sequential extraction of stream sediments were performed. Heavy metal pollution of sediments was higher in Chonam-ri creek than in Sagok-ri creek, because there is a larger source of base metal sulfides in the ores and waste dump upstream of Chonam-ri creek. The sediment–water distribution coefficients (K d) for metals in both creeks were dependent on the water pH and decreased in the order Pb ≈ Al > Cu > Mn > Zn > Co > Ni ≈ Cd. K d values for Al, Cu and Zn were very sensitive to changes in pH. The results of sequential extraction indicated that among non-residual fractions, Fe–Mn oxides are most important for retaining trace metals in the sediments. Therefore, the precipitation of Fe(–Mn) oxides due to pH increase in downstream sites plays an important role in regulating the concentrations of dissolved trace metals in both creeks. For Al, Co, Cu, Mn, Pb and Zn, the metal concentrations determined by 0.1 N HCl extraction (Korean Standard Method for Soil Pollution) were almost identical to the cumulative concentrations determined for the first three weakly-bound fractions (exchangeable + bound to carbonates + bound to Fe–Mn oxides) in the sequential extraction procedure. This suggests that 0.1 N HCl extraction can be effectively used to assess the environmentally available and/or bioavailable forms of trace metals in natural stream sediments.

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Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by the Environmental Geosphere Research Lab (EGRL), Korea University, as an Advanced Basic Science Research Lab (ABRL) sponsored by Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF). Field survey was partly supported by Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM). Many comments provided by anonymous journal reviewers were very helpful to improve the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Seong-Taek Yun.

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Jung, HB., Yun, ST., Mayer, B. et al. Transport and sediment–water partitioning of trace metals in acid mine drainage: an example from the abandoned Kwangyang Au–Ag mine area, South Korea. Environ Geol 48, 437–449 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00254-005-1257-7

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Keywords

  • Trace metals
  • Acid mine drainage
  • Stream sediment
  • 0.1 N HCl extraction
  • Sequential extraction
  • Distribution coefficient
  • Kwangyang mine, South Korea