Trace Element Mobility in Water and Sediments in a Hyporheic Zone Adjacent to an Abandoned Uranium Mine

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Claudia Roldan, Johanna Blake, Jose Cerrato, Abdulmehdi Ali and Steven Cabaniss, University of New Mexico Main Campus, Albuquerque, NM, United States
The legacy of abandoned uranium mines lead to community concerns about environmental and health effects. This study focuses on a cross section of the Rio Paguate, adjacent to the Jackpile Mine on the Laguna Reservation, west-central New Mexico. Often, the geochemical interactions that occur in the hyporheic zone adjacent to these abandoned mines play an important role in trace element mobility. In order to understand the mobility of uranium (U), arsenic (As), and vanadium (V) in the Rio Paguate; surface water, hyporheic zone water, and core sediment samples were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). All water samples were filtered through 0.45μm and 0.22μm filters and analyzed. The results show that there is no major difference in concentrations of U (378-496μg/L), As (0.872-6.78μg/L), and V (2.94–5.01μg/L) between the filter sizes or with depth (8cm and 15cm) in the hyporheic zone. The unfiltered hyporheic zone water samples were analyzed after acid digestion to assess the particulate fraction. These results show a decrease in U concentration (153-202μg/L) and an increase in As (33.2-219μg/L) and V (169-1130μg/L) concentrations compared to the filtered waters. Surface water concentrations of U(171-184μg/L) are lower than the filtered hyporheic zone waters while As(1.32-8.68μg/L) and V(1.75-2.38μg/L) are significantly lower than the hyporheic zone waters and particulates combined. Concentrations of As in the sediment core samples are higher in the first 15cm below the water-sediment interface (14.3-3.82μg/L) and decrease (0.382μg/L) with depth. Uranium concentrations are consistent (0.047-0.050μg/L) at all depths. The over all data suggest that U is mobile in the dissolved phase and both As and V are mobile in the particular phase as they travel through the system.