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Extreme spatial variability in riverine sediment load inputs due to soil loss in surface mining areas of the Lake Baikal basin
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
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Number of Authors: 5
2017 (English)In: Catena (Cremlingen. Print), ISSN 0341-8162, E-ISSN 1872-6887, Vol. 152, 82-93 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Surface mining can contribute to increasing riverine loads of potentially metal-enriched sediments. However, the related human disturbances and natural processes reflect a great complexity, which hinders quantitative Understanding. We here consider the Zaamar Goldfield in Mongolia, one of the world's largest placer mining sites, located in the Tuul River basin (upper Lake Baikal basin). A main study aim is to investigate relations between patterns of increased sediment loads along the Tuul River and the (spatially variable) area coverage of active or recently abandoned placer mines in the river vicinity. Specifically, we compare observed loads derived from nested catchment areas with the output from spatially distributed soil erosion modelling. Results showed that riverine sediment loads in mining areas reflect soil losses both from soil erosion and direct human impacts (e.g. waste water discharge), which are two to three orders of magnitude higher than the input from natural areas dominated by soil erosion alone. Notably, the sediment load contributions from the mining areas were insensitive to changes in hydrometeorological conditions, whereas contributions from natural areas were much lower during drier periods (as expected when governed by soil erosion by water). Accordingly, the relative contribution to the total sediment load (TSL) of metal-enriched soil from mining areas is likely to be particularly pronounced (with estimated values of about 80% of TSL) under drier hydrometeorological conditions. This is consistent with observations of considerably elevated metal concentrations under low flow conditions and implies that if annual average discharge continues to decrease in the Tuul River as well as the entire Selenga River system, increased metal concentrations may be one of the consequences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 152, 82-93 p.
Keyword [en]
Surface mining, Soil erosion, Human impact, Nested catchment approach, Zaamar Goldfield
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142373DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2017.01.008ISI: 000395218600009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-142373DiVA: diva2:1093246
Available from: 2017-05-05 Created: 2017-05-05 Last updated: 2017-05-05Bibliographically approved

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Pietron, JanJarsjö, Jerker
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  • apa
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  • vancouver
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More styles
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