This study discusses the effects of past mining activities on sediment and water quality in streams and rivers in the Tamar catchment. High trace element concentrations, both in water and sediments, were observed in streams and rivers draining areas associated with abandoned mine sites. Maximum concentrations were observed in the Gunnislake/Calstock mining district, where intense metalliferous mining took place during the 19th century. Mine waste from abandoned mine sites in this area contained up to 6.3% arsenopyrite, 5.8% pyrite, 0.3% chalcopyrite and 24% scorodite. As a result, high concentrations of trace elements of up to 180000 mg kg‾¹ As, 6500 mg kg‾¹ Cu were determined in these wastes. Sequential extraction of the mine waste revealed that in most cases, the oxidisable fraction accounted for large proportions of mobile species, followed by the reducible fraction. The exchangeable fraction was relatively low, except for Cu in samples from fine grained waste heaps, in which significant amounts of secondary minerals, such as Fe oxides/oxyhydroxides and Fe-As-O minerals were observed, suggesting trace elements had the tendency to be retained and recycled within the fine grained waste heaps. The Fe oxides/oxyhydroxides can contain up to 12% As and Fe-As-O minerals can contain up to 25% As and 6% Cu, indicating that the As and Cu associated with Fe oxide phases represent their reducible fraction. The coarse grained waste heaps, with higher permeability and low cohesion characteristics, had a higher potential to produce acid leachate and were more susceptible to erosion than the fine grained waste heaps. Contaminants from abandoned mine sites entered aquatic systems within the catchment, as shown by the high concentrations of trace elements (up to 25000 mg kg‾¹ As, 28000 mg kg‾¹ ' Cu, 32000 mg kg‾¹ Mn, 9200 mg kg‾¹ Pb and 2700 mg kg‾¹ Zn) observed in sediments in water channels draining these mine sites. Some streams and adits draining abandoned mine sites carried acidic waters with pH values frequently below pH 4. Dissolved concentrations up to 560 μg L‾¹ As, 7600 μg L‾¹ Cu, 3800 μg L‾¹ Fe, 5700 μg L‾¹ Mn, 170 pg L‾¹ Pb and 2500 μg L‾¹ Zn, and particulate concentrations up to 1600 μg UI As, 7900 μg L‾¹ Fe, 290 pg U' Ni, 11 pg U' Pb and 91 μg L-¹ Zn were observed in channels draining abandoned mine sites. In total, the annual flux of trace elements from 25 studied streams and adits input ca. 13,000 kg Fe, 4300 kg Mn, 4200 kg Cu, 3600 kg Zn, 1400 kg As, 400 kg Ni, 350 kg Co, 43 kg Pb, and 6.6 kg Cd into the Tamar estuary. Seven important point sources of metals to the River Tamar were identified. The mass balance calculation revealed that over 50% of trace elements were not accounted for by the studied point sources, suggesting an importance of diffuse sources. The inputs of solid and dissolved contaminants from the intensive mining district affect the water and sediment quality of the Tamar estuary, an important ecosystem in southwest England. This work has provided important information on the relative importance of point and diffuse sources, ‾which is essential in the formulation of effective catchment management strategies

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