Iron and Manganese Biogeochemistry in Forested Coal Mine Spoil

Elizabeth Herndon, Brianne Yarger, Hannah Frederick, David Singer
2019 Soil Systems  
Abandoned mine lands continue to serve as non-point sources of acid and metal contamination to water bodies long after mining operations have ended. Although soils formed from abandoned mine spoil can support forest vegetation, as observed throughout the Appalachian coal basin, the effects of vegetation on metal cycling in these regions remain poorly characterized. Iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn) biogeochemistry were examined at a former coal mine where deciduous trees grow on mine spoil deposited
more » ... nearly a century ago. Forest vegetation growing on mine spoil effectively removed dissolved Mn from pore water; however, mineral weathering at a reaction front below the rooting zone resulted in high quantities of leached Mn. Iron was taken up in relatively low quantities by vegetation but was more readily mobilized by dissolved organic carbon produced in the surface soil. Dissolved Fe was low below the reaction front, suggesting that iron oxyhydroxide precipitation retains Fe within the system. These results indicate that mine spoil continues to produce Mn contamination, but vegetation can accumulate Mn and mitigate its leaching from shallow soils, potentially also decreasing Mn leaching from deeper soils by reducing infiltration. Vegetation had less impact on Fe mobility, which was retained as Fe oxides following oxidative weathering.
doi:10.3390/soilsystems3010013 fatcat:qukjag3z6vcl7izltplb6j2chy