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Patterns of soil contamination, erosion and river loading of metals in a gold mining region of northern Mongolia
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5059-0326
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Number of Authors: 5
2017 (English)In: Regional Environmental Change, ISSN 1436-3798, E-ISSN 1436-378X, Vol. 17, no 7, p. 1991-2005Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Mining has become one of the main causes of increased heavy metal loading of river systems throughout the world. There is however an evident gap between assessments of soil contamination and metal release at the mined sites and estimates of river pollution. The present work focuses on Zaamar Goldfield, which is one of the largest placer gold mines in the world, located along the Tuul River, Mongolia, which ultimately drains into Lake Baikal, Russia. It combines field observations in the river basin with soil erosion modelling and aims at quantifying the contribution from natural erosion of metal-rich soil to observed increases in mass flows of metals along the Tuul River. Results show that the sediment delivery from the mining area to the Tuul River is considerably higher than the possible contribution from natural soil erosion. This is primarily due to excessive mining-related water use creating turbid wastewaters, disturbed filtering functions of deposition areas (natural sediment traps) close to the river and disturbances from infrastructures such as roads. Furthermore, relative to background levels, soils within Zaamar Goldfield contained elevated concentrations of As, Sr, Mn, V, Ni, Cu and Cr. The enhanced soil loss caused by mining-related activities can also explain observed, considerable increases in mass flows of metals in the Tuul River. The present example from Tuul River may provide useful new insights regarding the erosion and geomorphic evolution of mined areas, as well as the associated delivery of metals into stream networks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 17, no 7, p. 1991-2005
Keyword [en]
Mining, Soil contamination, Erosion, Heavy metal, River contamination
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-152664DOI: 10.1007/s10113-017-1169-6ISI: 000418588400012OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-152664DiVA, id: diva2:1183141
Available from: 2018-02-15 Created: 2018-02-15 Last updated: 2018-02-15Bibliographically approved

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Jarsjö, JerkerPietron, JanAlekseenko, Alexey V.Thorslund, Josefin
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