Skip to main content Accessibility help

Incongruent weathering of Cd and Zn from mine tailings

  • D. Kossoff (a1) (a2), K. A. Hudson-Edwards (a1), W. E. Dubbin (a2) and M. Alfredsson (a3)


Weathering ofdischarged mine tailings contaminates streams, rivers and floodplains with toxic metals on a vast scale. The magnitude of the problem depends on input tailings mineralogy, storage and dispersal, and climatic conditions. To better understand the mechanisms of long-term tailings weathering, a leaching column study was established, incorporating tailings and soil from Potosí, Bolivia, with the aim of modelling a 25 year field period. The Zn/Cd molar ratio ofthe tailings leachate water, initially 738 for the unaltered tailings, is highly variable over 15 model years of leaching, particularly in the mixed tailings-soil columns. Columns with soil have ratios as high as 2563, while pure tailings columns reach ratios of <376. We employ complementary techniques, involving atomistic computational modelling, leachate analysis and mineralogical characterization, to elucidate the mechanisms governing these incongruent Cd and Zn weathering dynamics.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Acero, P., Ayora, C. and Carrera, J. (2007) Coupled thermal, hydraulic and geochemical evolution of pyritic tailings in unsaturated column experiments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 71, 5325–5338.
Drever, J.I. (1997) The Geochemistry of Natural Waters. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle, NJ, USA.
Hudson-Edwards, K.A., Macklin, M.G., Miller, J.R. and Lechler, PJ. (2001) Sources, distribution and storage of heavy metals in the Rio Pilcomayo, Bolivia. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 72, 229–250.
Hudson-Edwards, K.A., Macklin, M.G., Jamieson, H.E., Brewer, P.A., Coulthard, T.J., Howard, A.J. and Turner, J. (2003) The impact of tailings dam spills and clean-up operations on sediment and water quality in river systems: The Rios Agrio-Guadiamar, Aznalcollar, Spain. Applied Geochemistry, 18, 221–239.
Miller, J.R., Hudson-Edwards, K.A., Lechler, P.J., Preston, D. and Macklin, M.G. (2004) Heavy metal contamination of water, soil and produce within riverine communities of the Rio Pilcomayo basin, Bolivia. Science of the Total Environment, 320, 189–209.
Pretes, M. (2002) Touring mines and mining tourists. Annals of Tourism Research, 29, 439–456.
Smolders, A.J.P., Hudson-Edwards, K.A., van der Velde, G. and Roelofs, J.G.M. (2004) Controls on water chemistry of the Pilcomayo river (Bolivia, South-America). Applied Geochemisty, 19, 1745–1758.
Waltham, T. (2005) The rich hill of Potosí. Geology Today, 21, 187.

Incongruent weathering of Cd and Zn from mine tailings

  • D. Kossoff (a1) (a2), K. A. Hudson-Edwards (a1), W. E. Dubbin (a2) and M. Alfredsson (a3)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed