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Sustainable natural remediation of abandoned tailings by metal-excluding heather (Calluna vulgaris) and gorse (Ulex europaeus), Carnon Valley, Cornwall, UK

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Lottermoser, BG and Glass, HJ and Page, CN (2011) Sustainable natural remediation of abandoned tailings by metal-excluding heather (Calluna vulgaris) and gorse (Ulex europaeus), Carnon Valley, Cornwall, UK. Ecological Engineering, 37. pp. 1249-1253.

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Abstract

This study was conducted to determine the uptake of elements (Ag, Al, As, Ca, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, P, S, Sb, Tl, U, W, Zn) by native gorse (Ulex europaeus) and heather (Calluna vulgaris), growing on abandoned tailings, Carnon Valley, Cornwall, UK. The metalliferous tailings are particularly As-rich (0.11–0.59 wt% As) and contain acid-generating sulfides (pH 3.36–6.59). Since abandonment three decades ago, gorse and heather have colonized much of the exposed tailings surface. Biogeochemical analyses demonstrate that gorse and heather are opportunistic, pioneering metallophytes that have the ability to exclude metals and As from their above-ground biomass. Concentrations of trace elements in gorse and heather were evaluated in terms of maximum tolerable levels in the feed of rodents and horses. The analyses revealed that gorse and heather do not accumulate large quantities of trace elements (Al, As, Cd, Co, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn) in their tissue, preventing harmful effects on rabbits feeding on them and transfers of trace metals and As into the developing wildlife food chains. This study demonstrates that (a) biogeochemical examinations of abandoned mined lands can reveal pioneering, metal-excluding plants; and (b) abandonment and benevolent neglect of mined lands can lead to the successful development of sustainable vegetation covers over mine wastes in the long term.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Ecological Engineering
Page Range: pp. 1249-1253
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2011.03.002
Additional Information: The definitive version is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2011 03:08
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:21
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/11492
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