Standard Article

Acid Mine Drainage—Extent and Character

Water Quality Control

  1. Arthur W. Rose

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.wq4

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Rose, A. W. 2005. Acid Mine Drainage—Extent and Character. Water Encyclopedia. 2:1–2.

Author Information

  1. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Acid mine drainage (AMD), also known as acid rock drainage (ARD), is an extensive environmental problem in areas of coal and metal mining. For example, the Appalachian Regional Commission estimated that 5700 miles of streams in eight Appalachian states were seriously polluted by AMD. AMD is also serious near major metal mining districts such as Iron Mountain, CA and Summitville, CO. In streams affected by AMD, fish and stream biota are severely impacted and the waters are not usable for drinking or for many industrial purposes. In addition to deleterious effects of dissolved constituents (H+, Fe, Al) on stream life, Fe and Al precipitates can cover the stream bed and inhibit stream life, and suspended precipitates can make the water unusable. In metal mining areas, heavy metals can add toxicity. General references on chemistry of AMD are Rose and Cravotta and Nordstrom and Alpers.


  • acid minc drainage;
  • metal mining;
  • sulfide minerals;
  • pyrite oxidation