Windblown Dust Deposition Forecasting and Spread of Contamination around Mine Tailings

Michael Stovern, Hector Manuel Guzman Grijalva, Kyle P. Rine, Matthew King, Wendell P. Ela, Eric A. Betterton, A. Eduardo Sáez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wind erosion, transport and deposition of windblown dust from anthropogenic sources, such as mine tailings impoundments, can have significant effects on the surrounding environment. The lack of vegetation and the vertical protrusion of the mine tailings above the neighboring terrain make the tailings susceptible to wind erosion. Modeling the erosion, transport and deposition of particulate matter from mine tailings is a challenge for many reasons, including heterogeneity of the soil surface, vegetative canopy coverage, dynamic meteorological conditions and topographic influences. In this work, a previously developed Deposition Forecasting Model (DFM) that is specifically designed to model the transport of particulate matter from mine tailings impoundments is verified using dust collection and topsoil measurements. The DFM is initialized using data from an operational Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The forecast deposition patterns are compared to dust collected by inverted-disc samplers and determined through gravimetric, chemical composition and lead isotopic analysis. The DFM is capable of predicting dust deposition patterns
from the tailings impoundment to the surrounding area. The methodology and approach employed in this work can be generalized to other contaminated sites from which dust transport to the local
environment can be assessed as a potential route for human exposure.
Translated title of the contributionPronóstico de la deposición del polvo transportado por el viento y dispersión de contaminación en los al rededores de un terrero minero
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages20
Issue number16
Early online date28 Jan 2016
StatePublished - 28 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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