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Atmosphere 2016, 7(2), 16; doi:10.3390/atmos7020016

Windblown Dust Deposition Forecasting and Spread of Contamination around Mine Tailings

Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Guey-Rong Sheu
Received: 6 November 2015 / Revised: 13 January 2016 / Accepted: 25 January 2016 / Published: 28 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atmospheric Composition Observations)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [6441 KB, uploaded 28 January 2016]   |  


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: dust transport; mine tailings; forecasting; dust collection; arsenic and lead dust transport; mine tailings; forecasting; dust collection; arsenic and lead

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Stovern, M.; Guzmán, H.; Rine, K.P.; Felix, O.; King, M.; Ela, W.P.; Betterton, E.A.; Sáez, A.E. Windblown Dust Deposition Forecasting and Spread of Contamination around Mine Tailings. Atmosphere 2016, 7, 16.

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