Tracking acid mine-drainage in Southeast Arizona using GIS and sediment delivery models

Laura M. Norman, Floyd Gray, D. Phillip Guertin, Craig Wissler, James D. Bliss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This study investigates the application of models traditionally used to estimate erosion and sediment deposition to assess the potential risk of water quality impairment resulting from metal-bearing materials related to mining and mineralization. An integrated watershed analysis using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) based tools was undertaken to examine erosion and sediment transport characteristics within the watersheds. Estimates of stream deposits of sediment from mine tailings were related to the chemistry of surface water to assess the effectiveness of the methodology to assess the risk of acid mine-drainage being dispersed downstream of abandoned tailings and waste rock piles. A watershed analysis was preformed in the Patagonia Mountains in southeastern Arizona which has seen substantial mining and where recent water quality samples have reported acidic surface waters. This research demonstrates an improvement of the ability to predict streams that are likely to have severely degraded water quality as a result of past mining activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-157
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 2008


  • Erosion
  • GIS
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Nonpoint source pollution
  • Sediment
  • Surface water
  • Water quality
  • Watershed management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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