Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Life & Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Grant Hokit

Second Advisor

John Christenson

Third Advisor

Murphy Fox

Abstract

Mining effluent is prevalent in Montana. Iron disulfide (FeS2) is a major byproduct of mining sites and prospect pits and oxidizes into sulfuric acid once it enters drainage streams. It is possible, therefore, that mining effluent determines a portion of the amount of sulfuric acid in a basin. However, no direct tests of this potential ® correlation have been conducted in the Helena area. If a cause (mining) and effect (high sulfate concentration) correlation is demonstrated, then a protocol for determining resulting sulfate concentration in other mined areas might be established. I hypothesize that streams in mined areas will have a higher concentration of sulfate than streams in un-mined areas. Eighteen samples taken from mined and un-mined areas of the Telegraph Creek, Lump Gulch and Ten Mile Creek Drainage Basins were tested for sulfate concentration using an ion chromotographer. Measurements were made to examine the effect of the number of upstream mines and mine proximity on sulfate concentration. The results were statically analyzed. No statistically significant correlations were established. Other factors affecting the results and possible further studies are discussed.

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