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Strontium (87Sr/86Sr) isotopes: A tracer for geochemical processes in mineralogically-complex mine wastes
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering.
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1298-0320
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3438-4818
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0935-3430
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2018 (English)In: Applied Geochemistry, ISSN 0883-2927, E-ISSN 1872-9134, Vol. 99, p. 42-54Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Interpretation of geochemical data based primarily on elemental concentrations often lead to ambiguous results due to multiple potential sources including mineral weathering, atmospheric input, biological cycling, mineral precipitation and exchange processes. The 87Sr/86Sr ratio is however not fractionated by these processes. In this study, Sr isotope (87Sr/86Sr) ratios have been coupled with chemical data of Sr and Rb-bearing minerals, tailings and leachates (water-soluble) to gain insight into the geochemical processes occurring within the Yxsjöberg Cu-W mine tailings, Sweden. The tailings have been exposed to oxidizing conditions resulting in three geochemical zones namely (i) oxidized, (ii) transition and (iii) unoxidized zones. Leachates from the oxidized zone are acidic (pH = 3.6–4.5) and contain elevated concentrations of metals (e.g. Fe, Cu and Zn) and SO4. The low pH has also led to subsequent weathering of most silicates, releasing Al, Ca, Mg and Na into solution. The 87Sr/86Sr ratio in the tailings ranges from 0.84787 to 1.26640 in the oxidized zone, 0.92660–1.06788 in the transition zone, whilst the unoxidized zone has values between 0.76452 and 1.05169. For the leachates, the 87Sr/86Sr ratio ranges from 2.44479 to 5.87552 in the oxidized zone, 1.37404–1.68844 in the transition zone and 1.03697–2.16340 in the unoxidized zone. Mixing (between mineral weathering and atmospheric sources) was identified as the major process regulating the Sr composition of the tailings and leachates. The highly radiogenic signatures of the leachates in the oxidized zone suggests weathering of biotite, K-feldspar and muscovite. Despite the very radiogenic signatures in the oxidized zone, increments in Ca/K ratios, Be, Ce, Tl, Al, Fe and SO4 concentrations in the water-soluble phase were recorded in its lower parts which suggests the dissolution of amphibole, pyroxene, plagioclase, fluorite, gypsum, Al and Fe –(oxy) hydroxides as well as cation exchange by clay minerals. Presence of clay minerals has led to the partial retainment of radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr resulting in increased 87Sr/86Sr in the solid tailings material at these depths. The 87Sr/86Sr ratios of the water-soluble phase in the transition zone is similar to that of helvine and could indicate its dissolution. In the upper part of the oxidized zone, the 87Sr/86Sr ratios and trends of Be, Ca, SO4, Tl and Zn in the water-soluble phase suggest the dissolution of gypsum which precipitated from a leachate with the isotopic signature of helvine. In the lower part of the unoxidized zone, elevated concentrations of W were recorded suggesting scheelite weathering. But the 87Sr/86Sr ratios are higher than that expected from dissolution of scheelite and indicates additional processes. Possible sources include biotite weathering and groundwater. This study reveals that when interpreting geochemical processes in mine waste environments, 87Sr/86Sr should be considered in addition to chemical constituents, as this isotopic tracer offers better insights into discriminating between different solute sources.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2018. Vol. 99, p. 42-54
Keywords [en]
Strontium isotopes, Silicate weathering, Yxsjöberg, Skarn mine tailings, Water-soluble
National Category
Geochemistry Geology
Research subject
Applied Geochemistry; Ore Geology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-71501DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2018.10.022ISI: 000451029300005Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85055999912OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-71501DiVA, id: diva2:1261481
Note

Validerad;2018;Nivå 2;2018-11-07 (johcin)

Available from: 2018-11-07 Created: 2018-11-07 Last updated: 2019-11-22Bibliographically approved

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Salifu, MusahAiglsperger, ThomasHällström, LinaMartinsson, OlofIngri, JohanDold, BernhardAlakangas, Lena

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