Geochemical and mineralogical record of the impact of mining on the Teign Estuary, Devon, UK
Geoscience in South-West England
The Ussher Society
Previous mineralogical and geochemical studies on the sediments in the Teign Estuary, Devon, UK, have shown that there are elevated levels of barium present within the surface sediments and the river catchment due to historical mining. For this investigation, 8 shallow cores (<1 m) were recovered from various locations in the estuary. These cores were subsequently logged, photographed and divided into approximately 5 cm depth intervals. The geochemistry and mineralogy of 68 samples from the cores were analysed. Bulk sediment geochemistry was determined by XRF and data for Ba, Cu, Pb and Zn are presented here. The mineralogy of the samples was determined by XRD. In addition, the samples from two cores were selected for mineralogical analysis using automated SEM-EDS (QEMSCAN®). The data show a sediment depth related geochemical trend with typically the lowest concentrations of Ba, Cu, Zn and Pb at the bases of the cores. Several of the sampling sites reveal a marked peak in the concentration of Pb and Zn mid-core; however, Cu values are low and invariant throughout. Postdating the Pb-Zn peak, there is a subsequent elevation in Ba in many of the cores studied, at a sediment depth of between 10 and 20 cm. Maximum concentrations of Ba reach 3360 ppm; Pb, 2220 ppm; Zn, 887 ppm and Cu, 258 ppm. Detrital minerals present include: barite, rutile, ilmenite, zircon, monazite, pyrite, cassiterite, sphalerite, galena and chalcopyrite. Framboidal pyrite is the only diagenetic mineral observed. The geochemical results are consistent with the historical mining records in the catchment, with barite mining postdating Pb-Zn mining. Both episodes of mining have released particulate mine waste, which has accumulated within the estuarine sediments.
Vol. 12, pp. 339 - 350