Pinenut Mine Life Cycle
For this study, the Pinenut mine represents conditions during active mining.
Breccia-pipe uranium mineral deposits contain radioactive material and radiation may be detected at the surface, even before mining activity commences. Measurements and maps of surface radiation before, during, and after mining, and after reclamation help determine if mining affects the amount of surface radiation. High levels of radiation can affect the health of the surficial ecosystem, and biota (including humans) that interact with that ecosystem.
Breccia-pipe uranium mineral deposits contain elevated concentrations of uranium and related trace elements, some of which are toxic to biota. Activities during mining including ore extraction, surface storage, and transport to the milling location in Blanding, Utah, have the potential to redistribute uranium and associated trace elements to the surrounding surface environment and ecosystems. Soil is one possible receptacle for these trace elements and represents a pathway where these potentially toxic trace elements may be introduced into surrounding ecosystems, surface drainage systems, and biota.
Questions this study could help answer
Compare gamma radiation and soil trace-element concentrations maps to similar maps constructed at other sites before and during mining, and during and after reclamation to understand how mining and reclamation change surficial radiation and trace-element distributions in soil above and around breccia-pipe uranium deposits.
The Pinenut mine is a subsurface uranium-ore deposit that was being actively mined during radiation measurement and soil sampling. Collection of surficial soil samples1, 2, shallow soil cores, and measurement of surface gamma radiation was conducted in an area extending a few hundred meters around the deposit in October 2014. Radiation measurements and soil samples were not collected on the mine site. A second set of surface-radiation measurements was made in March 2015.
Task 5a: Compile/evaluate existing and newly collected monitoring data from various agencies/sources Task 5c: Collect/analyze samples from biota with focus on trust resources Task 7a: Conduct species surveys Task 7b: Collect/analyze water and sediment samples 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.
1 Walton-Day, K., Bern, C.R., Naftz, D.L., Gross, T.A., and O'Shea, P.M., 2019, Surface Materials Data from Breccia-Pipe Uranium Mine and Reference Sites, Arizona, USA: U.S. Geological Survey data release
2 Bern, C.R., Walton-Day, K., and Naftz, D.L., 2019, Improved enrichment factor calculations through principal component analysis: examples from soils near breccia pipe uranium mines, Arizona, USA: Environmental Pollution, 248, p. 90-100.