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Iron and Manganese Biogeochemistry in Forested Coal Mine Spoil

Department of Geology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soil Syst. 2019, 3(1), 13;
Received: 28 December 2018 / Revised: 30 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 8 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Iron and Manganese Biogeochemical Cycling in Soils)
PDF [2511 KB, uploaded 27 February 2019]


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 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: manganese; iron; abandoned mine lands; biogeochemical cycles; spectroscopy manganese; iron; abandoned mine lands; biogeochemical cycles; spectroscopy

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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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Herndon, E.; Yarger, B.; Frederick, H.; Singer, D. Iron and Manganese Biogeochemistry in Forested Coal Mine Spoil. Soil Syst. 2019, 3, 13.

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