Geochemical analysis of water and stream sediments in the Nigadoo Mine area

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University of New Brunswick


An investigation .into the geochemistry of the water and stream sediments in the Nigadoo Mine area was undertaken to address concerns over water quality in the area. The primary concern for this study was the contamination of waters and stream sediments with metals. An investigation and comprehensive sampling protocol was designed to take advantage of baseline data available from previous studies in the 1960's and 1970's. Field traverses of the site were conducted to collect site information and set up the set of sample sites. Field measurements were made of various geochemical parameters to aid in establishing the controls on the geochemistry of the waters flowing around the area. Exploration reconnaissance techniques for Total Heavy Metals and Cold Extractable Heavy Metals were used to help establish a link to the baseline data on metal concentrations. The exploration techniques were also evaluated on their ability to aid in enhancing sampling programs for studies of this nature. To help establish a water quality database to aid in future studies and monitoring in the area. The waters and sediments were analyzed for metals using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry , Inductively Coupled Plasma Systems and Induced Neutron Activation. The later three analytical packages provided concentration data for up to 48 elements. A petrographic analysis was conducted to aid in the determination of the mineralogical components of the stream sediments and to verify any suspicions of sediment contamination. The data collected was compared with baseline data and used to ascertain changes in metal concentrations. The drainage features and sample sites were evaluated for water and sediment contamination as well as the possible sources of contamination. The metal concentration for the waters from each drainage feature and sample site was also compared to the Canadian Guidelines For Drinking Water to help establish a water quality database and direct attention to future monitoring needs in the area.