My name is Corin Hammond and I am a first year Ph.D. student in the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science. As part of the University of Arizona Superfund Basic Research Program, our research focuses on how biogeochemical processes affect the mineralogy of mine tailings in arid climates. Of particular concern to this project is arsenic contamination in the environment. My current research project is based at the Iron King Mine tailings, 12 miles east of Prescott in Yavapai County, AZ.
The Iron King Mine-Humboldt Smelter Site was added to the National Priorities List by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2008. Our research shows that Iron King Mine tailings contain high concentrations of arsenic and lead. Exposure can occur by wind dispersion and groundwater contamination. Our objective is to develop a cost effective phytostabilization strategy for the Iron King tailings pile. The ultimate goal is to reduce wind and water erosion of the tailings pile, thereby reducing human exposure to contaminants. Phytostabilization is complicated by the inhospitable environment the mine tailings provide to germinating plants. High acidity, high heavy metal content, and low organic matter content are a few factors that complicate the phytostabilization process. To overcome these obsticals, we add nutrient amendment and irrigation to establish a plant cover.
To assess the changes in biogeochemistry associated with the phytostabilization strategy, we analyze soil cores by laboratory and synchrotron X-ray techniques to investigate contaminant transport and soil genesis as a function time and depth.
Please follow the links below to the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program website for more information: