Metal release from bottom sediments of Ocoee Lake No. 3, a primary catchment area for the Ducktown Mining District

Giehyeon Lee, Gunter Faure, Jerry M. Bigham, David J. Williams

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Ocoee Lake No. 3 is the first reservoir receiving suspended sediments contaminated with trace metals discharged by acid mine effluents from the Ducktown Mining District, Tennessee. Bottom sediments (0-5 cm) from the lake were sampled to assess the potential for future adverse environmental effects if no remediation controls or activities are implemented. The sediments were found to include a major component (173 ± 19 g kg-1) that dissolved in 6 mol L-1 HCl within 24 h. This acid-soluble and relatively labile fraction contained high concentrations of Fe (460 ± 40 g kg -1), Al (99 ± 11 g kg-1), Mn (10 ± 8 g kg-1), Cu (2000 ± 700 mg kg-1), Zn (1300 ± 200 mg kg-1), and Pb (300 ± 200 mg kg-1). When the pH of water in contact with the sediment was decreased experimentally from 6.4 to 2.6, the concentrations of dissolved trace metals increased by factors of 2200 for Pb, 160 for Cu, 21 for Zn, 9 for Cd, 8 for Ni, and 5 for Co. The order in which metals were released with decreasing pH was the reverse of that reported for pH-dependent sorption of these metals in upstream systems. Substantial release of trace metals from the sediment was observed even by a modest decrease of pH from 6.4 to 5.9. Therefore, the metal-rich sediment of the lake should be considered as potentially hazardous to bottom-dwelling aquatic species and other organisms in the local food chain. In addition, if the reservoir is dredged or if the dam is removed, the accumulated sediment may have to be treated for recovery of sorbed metals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-352
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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