The legacy of U mining activities in New Mexico has resulted in a number of abandoned mine sites that have not been adequately managed or remediated. An investigation of the chemical interactions and mobility of uranium (U) near abandoned mine wastes was performed at a site located in Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico. Elevated U concentrations (ranging from 65 to 710 μg/L) were observed in surface water below an abandoned uranium mine. These U concentrations significantly decrease (ranging from 5.4 to 6.4 μg/L) downstream at a reservoir five kilometers below the mine. Our water data suggest that U forms aqueous complexes with carbonate and calcium which could contribute to U mobility. Although U concentrations in stream water are high, acid digestions and X-Ray Fluorescence bulk analysis suggest that there is limited accumulation in stream bed and bank sediments. Additionally, it was found that the roots of Salt Cedar plants downstream of the mine uptake uranium and could contribute to the decrease of U concentrations downstream. This study contributes to an understanding the mobility of uranium in surface water and accumulation in sediments close to the mine waste. This information is essential to determine human health implications resulting from exposure to these metals in neighboring communities.
uranium mining, abandoned mines, Laguna Pueblo
De Vore, Cherie L.. "Chemical interactions and mobility of uranium near abandoned mine wastes at Rio Paguate, Laguna New Mexico." (2015). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/wr_sp/17