Mine water geochemistry and metal flux in a major historic Pb-Zn-F orefield, the Yorkshire Pennines, UK

A. Jones, M. Rogerson, G. Greenway, H. A.B. Potter, W. M. Mayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies have shown up to 6 % of rivers in England and Wales to be impacted by discharges from abandoned metal mines. Despite the large extent of impacts, there are still many areas where mine water impact assessments are limited by data availability. This study provides an overview of water quality, trace element composition and flux arising from one such area; the Yorkshire Pennine Orefield in the UK. Mine drainage waters across the orefield are characterised by Ca-HCO3-SO4-type waters, with moderate mineralization (specific electrical conductance: 160-525 μS cm-1) and enrichment of dissolved Zn (≤2003 μg L-1), Ba (≤971 μg L-1), Pb (≤183 μg L-1) and Cd (≤12 μg L-1). The major ion composition of the waters reflects the Carboniferous gritstone and limestone-dominated country rock, the latter of which is heavily karstified in parts of the orefield, while sulphate and trace element enrichment is a product of the oxidation of galena, sphalerite and barite mineralization. Contaminant flux measurements at discharge sites highlight the disproportionate importance of large drainage levels across the region, which generally discharge into first-order headwater streams. Synoptic metal loading surveys undertaken in the Hebden Beck sub-catchment of the river Wharfe highlight the importance of major drainage levels to instream baseflow contamination, with diffuse sources from identifiable expanses of waste rock becoming increasingly prominent as river flows increase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7570-7581
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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