Modeling the emission, transport and deposition of contaminated dust from a mine tailing site

Michael Stovern, Eric A. Betterton, A. Eduardo Saez, Omar Ignacio Felix Villar, Kyle P. Rine, Mackenzie R. Russell, Matt King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Mining operations are potential sources of airborne particulate metal and metalloid contaminants through both direct smelter emissions and wind erosion of mine tailings. The warmer, drier conditions predicted for the Southwestern US by climate models may make contaminated atmospheric dust and aerosols increasingly important, due to potential deleterious effects on human health and ecology. Dust emissions and dispersion of contaminants from the Iron King Mine tailings in Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, a Superfund site, are currently being investigated through in situ field measurements and computational fluid dynamics modeling. These tailings are significantly contaminated with lead and arsenic with an average soil concentration of 1616 and 1420 ppm, respectively. Similar levels of these contaminants have also been measured in soil samples taken from the area surrounding the mine tailings. Using a computational fluid dynamics model, we have been able to model dust transport from the mine tailings to the surrounding region. The model includes a distributed Eulerian model to simulate fine aerosol transport and a Lagrangian approach to model fate and transport of larger particles. In order to improve the accuracy of the dust transport simulations both regional topographical features and local weather patterns have been incorporated into the model simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-94
Number of pages4
JournalReviews on Environmental Health
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Contaminated d.u.s.t.
  • Deposition
  • Mine tailings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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