Delineation of contamination flows produced by acid mine drainage in a former uranium mining site (Ronneburg, Eastern Thuringia, Germany) by the use of rare earth elements as tracers
Between 1950 and 1990 the area of Ronneburg (Eastern Thuringia, Germany) was the largest uranium mining site in black shales in the world. Sulfite oxidation still leads to pH-values in seepage waters as low as 2.5 and subsequent enrichment of heavy metals, including uranium and rare earth elements (REE). For seepage water sampled over a period of up to two years the shale normalized REE patterns show only minor variations, although the absolute concentrations differ. It is shown that not only the identification of contaminant sources can be performed using REE patterns, but it is also possible to follow the flow of contamination for both surface and groundwater. Percolation in batch experiments shows that the unique heavy REE enriched patterns are due to preferential leaching. The REE patterns in the water samples do not reflect the source rock pattern as can be demonstrated by laser ablation ICP-MS experiments.
KeywordsDioxide Sulfide Depression Silurian Hydroxide
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