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Sci Total Environ. 2014 Jul 15;487:97-101. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.04.020. Epub 2014 Apr 27.

Zinc stable isotope fractionation upon accelerated oxidative weathering of sulfidic mine waste.

Author information

1
School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK; Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G1. Electronic address: romy.matthies2@ncl.ac.uk.
2
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G1; Institut für Geowissenschaften, Universität Freiburg, Albertstrasse 23b, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.. Electronic address: lindakrahe@web.de.
3
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G1. Electronic address: blowes@uwaterloo.ca.

Abstract

Accelerated oxidative weathering in a reaction cell (ASTM D 5744 standard protocol) was performed over a 33 week period on well characterized, sulfidic mine waste from the Kidd Creek Cu-Zn volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit, Canada. The cell leachate was monitored for physicochemical parameters, ion concentrations and stable isotope ratios of zinc. Filtered zinc concentrations (<0.45 μm) in the leachate ranged between 4.5 mg L(-1) and 1.9 g L(-1)-potentially controlled by pH, mineral solubility kinetics and (de)sorption processes. The zinc stable isotope ratios varied mass-dependently within +0.1 and +0.52‰ relative to IRMM 3702, and were strongly dependent on the pH (rpH-d66Zn=0.65, p<0.005, n=31). At a pH below 5, zinc mobilization was governed by sphalerite oxidation and hydroxide dissolution-pointing to the isotope signature of sphalerite (+0.1 to +0.16‰). Desorption processes resulted in enrichment of (66)Zn in the leachate reaching a maximum offset of +0.32‰ compared to the proposed sphalerite isotope signature. Over a period characterized by pH=6.1 ± 0.6, isotope ratios were significantly more enriched in (66)Zn with an offset of ≈ 0.23‰ compared to sphalerite, suggesting that zinc release may have been derived from a second zinc source, such as carbonate minerals, which compose 8 wt.% of the tailings. This preliminary study confirms the benefit of applying zinc isotopes alongside standard monitoring parameters to track principal zinc sources and weathering processes in complex multi-phase matrices.

KEYWORDS:

Acid mine drainage; Isotope fractionation; Kidd Creek; MC-ICP-MS; Oxidation; Tailings

PMID:
24784733
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.04.020
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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