Attenuation and Remediation of Groundwater Contamination from Hardrock Acid-Mine Drainage in the Semiarid Southwest

Problem: 

The impact of acid rock drainage on surface-water and groundwater contamination is considered to be a primary environmental concern for many hardrock mining sites in the US. At the same time, cost-effective treatment of mining-impacted waters to levels protective of human health and the environment is a critical issue for mitigating the risk associated with hardrock mining sites.

At the University of Arizona, Drs. Mark Brusseau and Jim Field are investigating the key physical and biogeochemical processes that control migration and attenuation of mine-drainage contaminants in groundwater and are developing and testing innovative methods for characterization and remediation of contaminated groundwater at hardrock mining sites.

Significance: 

This project will advance the state of the science regarding the transport and attenuation of metalloids in the subsurface, and their remediation. It will produce knowledge and methods that can provide better site-specific information, which can be used to improve risk assessments, enhance selection and design of remediation actions, and to support decision-making concerning long-term site management and closure. It is anticipated that the application of project outcomes will produce significant cost savings for the clean-up of the nation’s inventory of mine waste sites.

Specific Aims: 

Aim 1: Determine the primary biogeochemical processes controlling attenuation and sequestration under natural and biostimulated conditions for the MV test site and how these compare to other sites. 

Aim 2: Examine the formation and dynamic behavior of reactive micro-zones that control attenuation and sequestration at the source-groundwater interface. 

Aim 3: Determine the long-term effectiveness and potential adverse impacts of in-situ biosequestration for groundwater remediation through a collaborative research translation field project.

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