1.2) Chemistry of Abandoned Mine Drainage
In AMD, as a result of underground coal mining, the sulfur-containing material is primarily pyrite, FeS2, which is the most abundant sulfide mineral on Earth [Johnson and Hallberg, 2005]. When pyrite reacts with oxygen and water, sulfur is oxidized to form a sulfate ion (eqn. 1). The newly formed ferrous ion (Fe+2) readily oxidizes to form a relativity insoluble ferric ion (Fe+3) in the presence of oxygen (eqn. 2). The ferric ion is limited due to the pH of the water. If the pH is greater than 3, iron (III) hydroxide is formed (eqn. 3), otherwise known as “yellow boy” [Cravotta and Kirby, 2002]. The Fe(OH)3 precipitates out of the water and forms a layer at the bottom of the stream beds making the waters appear to be yellow-brown in color.
FeS2 + 3.5 O2 + H2O → Fe+2 + 2 SO4-2 + 2 H+ (1)
Fe+2 + 0.25 O2 + H+ → Fe+3 + 0.5 H2O (2)
Fe+3 + 3 H2O → Fe(OH)3 + 3 H+...
... middle of paper ...
Figure 4. Schematic of treatment pond containing spent mushroom compost and limestone. Water pathways are represented by arrows. Adapted from Dietz et.al. Consulting and Rose & Dietz 2002. (add in source)
AMD enters the pond (Figure 5a) and flows downward through the compost and limestone layers to drain pipes that transport the treated water to the next pond. The treated water mixes with overflow non-treated AMD (Figure 5b) and the process repeats itself until ultimately exiting the treatment system at a higher pH and lower metal concentrations. In 2007, the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance reported changes in the influent and effluent water of the system. From the entrance point to the exit point of the water, the pH rose from 4.2 to 7.2, iron dropped by 27 mg/L to 0.2 mg/L and sulfate concentrations were reduced from 395 mg/L to 80 mg/L.
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