July 4, 2012--Geologic survey report finds acid drainage predated mining (Telluride Watch)

An award-winning study by the Colorado Geologic Survey has bolstered claims by miners in the Ouray-Red Mountain district that highly acidic surface water preceded mining activity by thousands, perhaps millions of years. The report, titled “Natural Acid Rock Drainage Associated with Hydrothermally Altered Terrane in Colorado,” was recently given an award by the Geological Society of America as the best environmental publication of 2011. The report identifies a number of high-country streams in Colorado, including Red Mountain Creek, where surface water is acidic and has high concentrations of metals upstream of historic mining. “Of course, the mining made it much, much worse,” commented Don Paulson, a former chemistry professor who is now curator of the Ouray County Historical Museum. Paulson has followed efforts to identify sources of stream pollution and the remedial measures undertaken to improve water quality in the Uncompahgre River and its tributaries.

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