Author(s): Neal C, Whitehead PG, Jeffery H, Neal M
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Abstract In January 1992, there was a major pollutant event for the River Carnon and downstream with its confluence to the River Fal and the Fal estuary in the west Cornwall. This incident was associated with the discharge of several million gallons of highly polluted water from the abandoned Wheal Jane tin mine that also extracted Ag, Cu and Zn ore. Later that year, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH; then Institute of Hydrology) Wallingford undertook daily monitoring of the River Carnon for a range of major, minor and trace elements to assess the nature and the dynamics of the pollutant discharges. These data cover an 18-month period when there remained major water-quality problems after the initial phase of surface water contamination. Here, a summary is provided of the water quality found, as a backdrop to set against subsequent remediation. Two types of water-quality determinant grouping were observed. The first type comprises the determinants B, Cs, Ca, Li, K, Na, SO4, Rb and Sr, and their concentrations are positively correlated with each other but inversely correlated with flow. This type of water-quality determinant shows variations in concentration that broadly link to the normal hydrogeochemical processes within the catchment, with limited confounding issues associated with mine drainage. The second type of water-quality determinant comprises Al, Be, Cd, Ce, Co, Cu, Fe, La, Pb, Pr, Nd, Ni, Si, Sb, U, Y and Zn, and concentrations for all this group are positively correlated. The determinants in this second group all have concentrations that are negatively correlated with pH. This group links primarily to pollutant mine discharge. The water-quality variations in the River Carnon are described in relation to these two distinct hydrogeochemical groupings.
This article was published in Sci Total Environ
and referenced in Hydrology: Current Research