The Geochemical and Mineralogical Record of the Impact of Historical Mining within Estuarine Sediments from the Upper Reaches of the Fal Estuary, Cornwall, UK

  1. N. D. Smith2 and
  2. J. Rogers3
  1. S. H. Hughes

Published Online: 17 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304213.ch12

Fluvial Sedimentology VI

Fluvial Sedimentology VI

How to Cite

Hughes, S. H. (1999) The Geochemical and Mineralogical Record of the Impact of Historical Mining within Estuarine Sediments from the Upper Reaches of the Fal Estuary, Cornwall, UK, in Fluvial Sedimentology VI (eds N. D. Smith and J. Rogers), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304213.ch12

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Department of Geosciences, 214 Bessey Hall, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0340, USA

  2. 3

    Cape Town, South Africa

Author Information

  1. Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter, Pool, Redruth, Cornwall TR15 3SE, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 7 OCT 1999

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632053544

Online ISBN: 9781444304213

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Keywords:

  • impact of historical mining within estuarine sediments from upper reaches of Fal Estuary, Cornwall, UK;
  • Fal Estuary - one of largest estuarine systems in southwest England;
  • regional geological setting;
  • historical mining impact records in estuarine sediments;
  • sediment geochemistry;
  • sediment mineralogy

Summary

The Fal Estuary, in southwest England, drains areas of extensive metal mining on the eastern side and china-clay mining to the west. As a consequence, the estuarine sediments provide a record of the historical pollution from mining. Sediment cores from the intertidal mudflats of tributaries at the northern end of the Fal Estuary have been examined mineralogically and geochemically. Initial analyses reveal a significant pulse of mine-waste contamination at approximately 30–50 cm below the present-day sediment surface. High metal levels of 2300 p.p.m. Sn, 430 p.p.m. As, 1590 p.p.m. Pb, 1970 p.p.m. Zn and 1070 p.p.m. Cu occur within this interval, together with a heavy mineral suite comprising chalcopyrite, arsenopyrite, pyrite, cassiterite, Fe–Ti oxides (ilmenite and rutile), wolframite, sphalerite, barite, zircon, monazite and xenotime. In addition, human-made smelt products also occur. This contamination probably correlates with the discharge of mine waste either during, or immediately after, the peak of mining activity, which occurred between 1853 and 1893.