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Arsenic speciation and mobility in surface water at Lucky Shot Gold Mine, Alaska

Torrance, Keith and Keenan, Helen and Munk, Leeann and Hagedorn, Birgit (2012) Arsenic speciation and mobility in surface water at Lucky Shot Gold Mine, Alaska. Environmental Geochemistry and Health.

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Abstract

Historical mining in Alaska has created a legacy of approximately 6,830 abandoned mine sites which include adits, tailing piles and contaminated land that continue to impact surface and groundwater quality through run-off and leaching of potentially toxic metals, especially arsenic (As). One such site is the Lucky Shot Gold Mine in Hatcher Pass, south-central Alaska, which operated from 1920 until 1942, mining gold-bearing quartz veins hosted in a Cretaceous tonalite intrusion. Arsenopyrite (FeAsS) and pyrite (FeS(2)) present in the quartz veins contribute to elevated As levels in water draining, abandoned mine adits. As future underground mining at Lucky Shot may further adversely impact water quality, baseline geochemical studies were undertaken to assess As mobility in the vicinity of the mine adits. Water samples were collected from streams, adits and boreholes around the mine and analysed for major and minor elements using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and for anions by ion chromatography (IC). Arsenic species separation was performed in the field to determine the ratio of inorganic As(III)/As(V) using anion-exchange chromatography, following established methods. It was determined that water draining the adits had elevated levels of As roughly seventy times the United States Environmental Protection Agency Drinking Water Standard of 10 μg L(-1), although this was rapidly diluted downstream in Craigie Creek to