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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Influence of Typha latifolia and fertilization on metal mobility in two different Pb-Zn mine tailings types.

Storing metal-rich mine waste (tailings) under submerged and reduced conditions can prevent the release of metals to the water column, but introduction of wetland plants on these sediments may alter the reducing environment through root oxygen diffusion or organic matter accumulation. Fertilization of these wetlands can enhance plant growth, but also may either strengthen reducing conditions via microbial stimulation, or increase the redox potential (Eh) through increased root radial oxygen loss. This long-term study (2.25 years) investigated the porewater As, Fe, and Zn concentrations of waterlogged Pb-Zn tailings from two Irish mines, Silvermines and Tara mines, with addition of Typha latifolia, fertilizer, or both treatments combined. In both tailings types, the fertilized plants showed significantly increased total biomass production, but the plants grew greater biomass in Tara tailings relative to Silvermines tailings even without fertilization. In Tara mines tailings, the addition of plants increased Eh and mobilized Zn; the addition of fertilizer enhanced reducing conditions and increased porewater concentrations of As and soluble sulfides; and the combination of treatments on these tailings resulted in complex interactions. In Silvermines tailings, there were negligible effects of the treatments. For effective sequestration of metals in these tailings, Silvermines would require only water cover, but Tara mines tailings would require either both treatments or neither because each treatment individually would increase solubility of As or Zn. These results show also the necessity of evaluating treatment effects specific to individual tailings, that long-term studies (years) are crucial for tailings equilibration and valid experimental conclusions, and that passive accumulation of organic matter may take decades.[1]


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