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Nd isotopes track rare earth element sources in acid mine drainage, Appalachian Basin, USA

Wallrich, Irene L. R. (2018) Nd isotopes track rare earth element sources in acid mine drainage, Appalachian Basin, USA. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Acid mine drainage (AMD) has been proposed as a potential source of strategic rare earth elements (REEs). To simulate AMD-rock interactions and determine the source of energy-critical REEs, we conducted experiments using overburden, coal (Pittsburgh Coal), and underclay samples from an AMD generating mine in the Appalachian Basin. Sulfuric acid (0.05N) leached < 10% of whole rock total REEs from all samples except the underclay, which released 35%. Unlike the relatively flat North American Shale Composite (NASC) normalized whole rock REE patterns, sulfuric acid leachates of these units show middle rare earth element (MREE) enrichment patterns similar to what is observed in AMD.
Measured ƐNd(0) values for the whole rocks range from -11.2 to -12.0. Most leachates for those rock units have more radiogenic ƐNd(0) values between -5.8 and -9.3, similar to that of AMD from the Pittsburgh Coal. When corrected to a late Carboniferous depositional age (300Ma), the ԐNd(T) range for all samples (whole rocks and leachates) narrows to -9.9 to -6.2 for all samples. These data, together with geochemical and petrographic analysis, suggest that the MREE enrichment of AMD results from preferential leaching of a readily dissolvable, MREE-rich, high Sm/Nd mineral phase such as carbonate or phosphate accessory minerals.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Wallrich, Irene L. R.ilw5@pitt.eduilw50000-0001-5007-9907
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCapo, Rosemaryrcapo@pitt.edurcapo
Committee MemberStewart, Brianbstewart@pitt.edubstewart
Committee MemberJones, Charlescejones@pitt.educejones
Date: 30 January 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 November 2017
Approval Date: 30 January 2018
Submission Date: 6 December 2017
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 62
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Geology and Environmental Science
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Acid Mine Drainage, AMD, Pittsburgh Coal, Rare Earth Elements, REE, Neodymium, Isotopes, Appalachian Basin, Coal
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2018 18:19
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2020 06:15


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