DOI:https://doi.org/10.3232/SJSS.2018.V8.N2.08

Effect of an acid mine spill on soils in Sonora River Basin: Micromorphological indicators

Maria Yazmin Rivera Uria, Francisco Robert Alexander Ziegler-Rivera, Jaime Díaz-Ortega, Blanca Prado-Pano, Francisco Martín Romero

Abstract

The role of soil could be decisive for the neutralization of the acid solution and immobilization of the metallic contaminants produced by mining industry. We studied micromorphological indicators of the interaction between the acid solution and soil material in the profile of Fluvisol at the Bacanuchi river (Sonora River Basin, Mexico) terrace affected by the catastrophic mine spill and in analyzing sample from a soil column treated with an acid liquid imitating the spill. Original unaffected soil is sandy with poorly developed pedogenetic features, however, frequent primary and secondary micritic and sparitic carbonates define high pH values. In the soil influenced by acid solutions under natural and laboratory conditions, carbonates were absent whereas neoformed gypsum crystals with radial intergrowth were observed together with accumulation of fine material enriched in ferruginous pigment. Micromorphometric quantification of the iron-rich fine material has shown its increase after interaction with the acid solution. We conclude that the interaction consisted of the neutralization reaction between the more reactive phases of the soil and the acid solution during which carbonates were consumed and gypsum was neoformed. Fine iron oxides precipitated after neutralization of acidity, the pH increased and the color changed. It is highly probable that other metallic contaminants co-precipitated with the ferruginous components.

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