Effects of eutrophic water flooding on nitrate concentrations in mine wastes

  • M. Nazaret González-Alcaraz /
  • Consuelo Egea /
  • Antonio María-Cervantes /
  • Francisco J. Jiménez-Cárceles /
  • José álvarez-Rogel
Journal ar
Ecological Engineering
  • Volumen: 37
  • Número: 5
  • Fecha: 01 May 2011
  • Páginas: 693-702
  • ISSN: 09258574
  • Source Type: Journal
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2010.02.009
  • Document Type: Article
Salt marshes near urban, industrial and mining areas are often affected both by heavy metals and by eutrophic water. The aim of this study was to assess and evaluate the main processes involved in the decrease of nitrate concentration in pore water of mine wastes flooded with eutrophic water, considering the presence or absence of plant rhizhosphere. Basic (pH~7.8) carbonated loam mine wastes and free-carbonated acidic (pH~6.2) sandy-loam mine wastes were collected from polluted coastal salt marshes of SE Spain which regularly receive nutrient-enriched water. The wastes were put in pots and flooded for 15 weeks with eutrophic water (dissolved organic carbon ~26mgL-1, PO43- ~23mgL-1, NO3- ~180mgL-1). Three treatments were assayed for each type of waste: pots with Sarcocornia fruticosa, pots with Phragmites australis and unvegetated pots. Soluble organic carbon, nitrate, soluble Cd, Pb and Zn, pH and Eh were monitored. But the 2nd day of flooding, nitrate concentrations had decreased between 70% and 90% (equivalent to 1.01-1.12gN-NO3-m-2day-1) with respect to the content in the water used for flooding, except in unvegetated pots with acidic wastes. Denitrification was the main mechanism associated with the removal of nitrate. The role of vegetation in improving the rhizospheric environment was relevant in the acidic wastes because higher sand content, lower pH and higher soluble metal concentrations might strongly hinder microbial activity Hence, revegetation of salt marshes polluted by acidic sandy mining wastes might improve the capacity of this type of environment to act as a green filter against excessive nitrate contents flowing through them. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

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