EARTH Magazine: EARTH: Bringing Geoscience to Bear on the Problem of Abandoned Mines

EARTH Magazine

From EARTH magazine, June 30, 2016  --  Last summer, while the abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado was being studied for acid mine drainage, the earthen plug blew out, releasing millions of gallons of acid mine water into the Animas River, which eventually drains into the San Juan and Colorado rivers and ultimately Lake Powell. The images were startling, but this event added momentum to the national dialog on remediating abandoned mine lands. EARTH Magazine explores the role geoscience plays in this process. 

Hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines exist nationwide, releasing untold amounts of pollutants into the environment. In fact, every year, mines in Colorado's Silverton Caldera alone release more than 100 times what the Gold King Mine released. How to prevent such release is anything but a straightforward problem, made more complicated by laws that govern mining, some of which date back to Ulysses S. Grant's presidency. Such laws greatly influence how states and communities can interact with abandoned mines. 

Learn what exactly an abandoned mine is, and what geoscientists are doing to study the issue, inform the public and potentially influence future legislation in EARTH Magazine:

EARTH Magazine is the premier source to discover the role geoscience is playing in our world. In addition to stories like the one above, readers can find stories based on the research of scientists worldwide. In the July 2016 issue, EARTH looks at how urine may help solve a global fertilizer shortage, shares the results of a study that produced a new gravity map for the planet Earth, and interviews planetary scientist Steven Squyres in its monthly "Down to EARTH" series. Explore these stories and much more at


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