Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 142, Issue 1–4, pp 395–408 | Cite as

Effects of Iron Precipitation and Organic Amendments on Porosity and Penetrability in Sulphide Mine Tailings



This paper evaluates the effects of organic amendments and ironprecipitation on pore size distribution and mechanical resistancein sulphide mine tailings, as related to plant habitat requirements. Unaltered tailings, oxidised tailings collected from untreated, fertilized and sludge-amended plots in the field,and mixtures of unaltered tailings and organic amendments prepared in the laboratory, were analysed for pore size distribution. The organic amendments (sewage sludge, peat mossand paper mill sludge) were each applied at the rates of 0, 16 and 33% by volume. A difference in pore-size distribution between untreated and treated samples was shown in both field and laboratory samples. Both inorganic and organic amendments caused a decrease in pores holding water at soil water potentials–10 to –60 kPa, but increased the pores holding water at tensions below –60 kPa. This resulted in a decreased or unchanged content of plant available water (Wa) in all laboratory samples and in the fertilized field samples. Penetration studies in the field showed that additions of fertilizer, without any organic matter, had resulted in hardpans in the oxidised tailings that significantly increased themechanical resistance in the surface horizon. Thus, this studyindicates that the physical influence of the oxidation processestaking place in sulphide mine tailings can be magnified by additions of soil amendments. The aggregation of iron oxides and negatively charged particles such as organic substances orphosphate anions may cement the tailings, which can result inimpeded root growth.

iron precipitation mechanical resistance plant available water pore size distribution soil amendments sulphide mine tailings 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andersson, S. and Wiklert, P.: 1972, ‘Markfysikaliska undersökningar i odlad jord’, Grundförbättring 2-3, 53–143.Google Scholar
  2. Bengough, A. G. amd Mullins, C. E.: 1990, ‘Mechanical impedance to root growth: a review of experimental techniques and root growth responses’, J. Soil. Sci. 41, 341–358.Google Scholar
  3. Bennie, A. T. P. and Burger, R. du, T.: 1988, ‘Penetration resistance of fine sandy apedal soils as affected by relative bulk density, water content and texture’, S. Afr. J. Plant Soil. 5, 5–10.Google Scholar
  4. Blowes, D. W., Reardon, E. J., Jambor, J. L. and Cherry, J. A.: 1991, ‘The formation and potential importance of cemented layers in inactive sulfide mine tailings’, Geochim. Cosmochim. AC. 55, 965–978.Google Scholar
  5. Bradshaw, A. D. and Chadwick, M. J.: 1980, The Restoration of Land, The Pitman Press, Oxford, 317 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Brady, N. C. and Weil, R. R.: 1996, The Nature and Properties of Soils (11th ed.), Prentice Hall International, New Jersey, 740 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Carter, M. R.: 1993, Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, Canadian Society of Soil Science, CRC Press, Florida, 823 pp.Google Scholar
  8. Epstein, E., T aylor, J. M. and Chaney, R. L.: 1976, ‘Effects of sewage sludge and sludge compost applied to soil on some soil physical and chemical properties’, J. Environ. Qual. 5, 422–426.Google Scholar
  9. Guidi, G. and Hall, J. E.: 1984, ‘Effects of Sewage Sludge on the Physical and Chemical Properties of Soils’, in P. L'Hermite and H. Ott (eds), Processing and Use of Sewage Sludge, Proceedings of the Third International Symposium, Brighton, Great Britain, 27-30 September 1983, pp. 295–306.Google Scholar
  10. Khaleel, R., Reddy, K. R. and Overcash, M. R.: 1981, ‘Changes in soil physical properties due to organic waste applications: a review’, J. Environ. Qual. 10, 133–141.Google Scholar
  11. Kleinmann, R. L. P., Crerar, D. A. and Pacelli, R. R.: 1981, ‘Biogeochemistry of acid mine drainage and a method to control acid formation’, Mining Engineering 33, 300–305.Google Scholar
  12. Lin, Z.: 1997, ‘Mobilization and retention of heavy metals in mill-tailings from Garpenberg sulfide mines, Sweden’, Sci. Total. Environ. 198, 13–31.Google Scholar
  13. McCoy, E. L.: 1998, ‘Sand and organic amendment influences on soil physical properties related to turf establishment’, Agron. J. 90, 411–419.Google Scholar
  14. McSweeny, K. and Madison, F. W.: 1988, ‘Formation of a cemented subsurface horizon in sulfidic minewaste’, J. Environ. Qual. 2, 256–262.Google Scholar
  15. Odèn, S.: 1957, ‘Förslag till Klassifikation av Markens Porer’, Kung. Skogs-och Lantbruksakademiens tidskrift 96, 297–313.Google Scholar
  16. Pagliai, M., Guidi, G., La Marca, M., Giachetti, M. and Lucamante, G.: 1981, ‘Effects of sewage sludges and composts on soil porosity and aggregation’, J. Environ. Qual. 10, 556–561.Google Scholar
  17. Schwertmann, U. and Taylor, R. M.: 1989, ‘Iron Oxides’, in J. B. Dixon and S. B. Weed (eds), Minerals in Soil Environments, Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Book Series 1, Madison, Wis, U.S.A., pp. 379–439.Google Scholar
  18. Stjernman, L. and Ledin, S.: 2001. ‘Growth of Barley, Red Fescue and Red Clover in Tailings Mixed with Different Organic Materials’, in Securing the Future, Proceedings of the International Conference on Mining and the Environment, Skellefteå, Sweden, 25 June - 1 July 2001, pp. 795–805.Google Scholar
  19. Waddington, D. V.: 1992, ‘Soils, Soil Mixtures and Soil Amendments’, in D. V. Waddington, R. N. Carrow and R. C. Shearman (eds), Turfgrass, Agronomy Monograph No. 32, Madison, Wis, U.S.A., pp. 331–383.Google Scholar
  20. Webber, L. R.: 1978, ‘Incorporation of nonsegregated, noncomposted solid waste and soil physical properties’, J. Environ. Qual. 7, 397–400.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Soil SciencesUniversity of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations