Science for Decision Making on Uranium Mining in Arizona

Characterize Element Mobility and Bioavailability in Soil Samples

At Pinenut Mine

Total concentrations of trace elements in soils can assist in understanding their sources and spatial distributions. The total concentration of an element in soil is usually much greater than the amount of that element that is able to move around in the soil in the presence of water (element mobility), or the amount that is physically and biochemically available for uptake by plants or animals (bioavailability). Soil samples can be leached with artificial rainwater or river water in the laboratory to help determine how mobile an element will be in the environment. More specialized chemical leaches help determine how available an element is for uptake by plants and animals. These solubility tests (called extractions) approximate the mobility and bioavailability of individual chemical elements present in soil samples.

Questions this study could help answer

  • How much of an element present in soil will move in the presence of water?
  • How much of an element present in soil may be taken up by plants and animals?
  • Which elements present in soil are mobile or bioavailable?
  • Is there a geographic difference (within and around a mine site) in element mobility and bioavailability?


Submit soil samples for solubility tests

Compare solubility test results to samples collected from other mine sites before and during mining to compare and contrast amounts of mobile elements and relate them to the stage of the mining process, or other factors.



Specific Tasks

Task 7b: Collect/analyze water and sediment samples
Task 7c: Collect/analyze samples from biota with focus on trust resources
Task 7d: Collect/analyze soils including deeper horizons to characterize vertical distributions
Task 11: Characterize the wind dispersion characteristics of uranium and trace elements associated with uranium mining and the subsequent risk to biota.
Task 17: Determine biological effects of uranium + trace element mixtures

Principal Investigators

Katie Walton-Day
Colorado Water Science Center

Carleton Bern
Research Soil Scientist
Colorado Water Science Center

Photo Gallery

Soil core location

Pinenut Mine Gallery

Sites with Related Activities

Arizona 1 || Pinyon Plain (formerly Canyon) || EZ