Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017MT316B

Student Fellowship Project: Microbially induced metal precipitation and co‐precipitation in mine influenced water

Institute: Montana
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $2,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $880

Principal Investigators: Emily Stoick

Abstract: Given Montana’s rich mining history, it comes as no surprise that abandoned mining sites contribute to environmental contamination throughout the state. Their tailings and abandoned adits or pits leach heavy metals and other toxins into ground and surface waters. The 9,000‐acre Carpenter‐Snow Creek Mining District (CSCMD) site near Neihart, Montana experienced silver, lead, and zinc mining from 1882 through 19291. Since 2001, it has been listed as an EPA Superfund site. Byproducts of the mining activity still influence the soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater on the site, posing dangerous risks to human health and ecological receptors in the area. At present, Carpenter Creek and Snow Creek, which catch runoff from the CSCMD watershed, are completely devoid of fish. These creeks flow into Belt Creek, posing more ecological risks to downstream receptors. For this study, contaminants of concern include heavy metals and arsenic which are dissolved in mine influenced water discharging from at least 21 of 96 abandoned mine adits. The MIW flowing from these adits flow directly into Carpenter and Snow Creeks. Previous research in our lab has shown that many of the metals of concern can be supersaturated and co‐precipitated into calcium carbonate or precipitated as other metal carbonate minerals2 (i.e. BaCO3, MnCO3). Other research has shown that sulfate reducing biochemical reactors can effectively remove metals from the MIW at the same CSCMD site3. This research would investigate the combination of microbial ureolysis driven carbonate precipitation and sulfate reduction as a remediation strategy for the MIW discharged from an adit at the site containing multiple dissolved metals of concern.