Simulation of windblown dust transport from a mine tailings impoundment using a computational fluid dynamics model

Michael Stovern, Omar Felix, Janae Csavina, Kyle P. Rine, MacKenzie R. Russell, Robert M. Jones, Matt King, Eric A. Betterton, A. Eduardo Sáez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 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 dust and aerosol 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 heavily contaminated with lead and arsenic. Using a computational fluid dynamics model, we model dust transport from the mine tailings to the surrounding region. The model includes gaseous plume dispersion to simulate the transport of the fine aerosols, while individual particle transport is used to track the trajectories of larger particles and to monitor their deposition locations. 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. Results show that local topography and wind velocity profiles are the major factors that control deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalAeolian Research
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Aerosol transport
  • CFD
  • Deposition
  • Dust
  • Superfund

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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