The dispersal and storage of sediment-associated metals in an arid river system

The Leichhardt River, Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia

Mark Patrick Taylor*, Karen A. Hudson-Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)


This paper details the distribution of Cu, Pb and Zn in aquatic systems draining Mount Isa Ag-Cu-Pb-Zn Mine in arid northern Queensland, Australia. Sediment-metal concentrations in the <2 mm grain-size fraction adjacent to and downstream of the mine significantly exceed background concentrations (Cu, 159; Pb, 36; Zn, 86 ppm) as well as Australian government sediment quality low trigger guidelines (Cu, 65; Pb, 50; Zn, 200 ppm). Overbank sediments are more contaminated than channel sediments with mean values of Cu, 480; Pb, 540; Zn, 750 ppm. Mean concentrations in cut riverbank samples from the <2 mm fraction were Cu, 195; Pb, 724; Zn, 807 ppm. Corresponding <180 μm samples returned concentrations of Cu, 321; Pb, 995; Zn, 1110 ppm. Delivery of contaminants during wet seasons from Mount Isa Mine and historically contaminated riverbanks remains an ongoing issue. The ease of dust entrainment in arid zones means that sediments enriched in toxic concentrations of metals may be widely dispersed and ultimately ingested and absorbed by biota.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

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