Final Report: Microbial Community Diversity, Structural and Functional Responses to Multi-Component Metal Contamination of River Benthic Systems

EPA Grant Number: R829400E02
Title: Microbial Community Diversity, Structural and Functional Responses to Multi-Component Metal Contamination of River Benthic Systems
Investigators: Gammons, Christopher H. , Hobbs, David , Moore, Johnnie , Nimick, David
Institution: University of Montana , United States Geological Survey [USGS]
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: September 24, 2001 through September 23, 2003 (Extended to September 22, 2004)
Project Amount: $280,000
RFA: EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: EPSCoR (The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research)


The Montana U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research program to Establish Research in the Biogeochemistry and Biological Effects of Toxic Metals from Historic Mining Activities consists of a Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP) and two Science and Engineering Environmental Research (SEER) projects. This reported focues on one of the SEER projects conducted by Montana Tech of the University of Montana. The objective of this research project was to investigate the chemical processes responsible for the large and reproducible diel (24-hour) fluctuations shown by dissolved metals, including Zn, Cd, Mn, and As, dissolved in streams draining abandoned mine lands in Montana. Detailed field studies, laboratory experiments, and theoretical modeling aimed to uncover more detail on the causes of diel metal cycling in streams. In the final year, the project was expanded to include research on diel cycling of stable isotopes of dissolved oxygen and dissolved inorganic carbon in rivers.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

Field investigations of diel cycling in streams yielded 34 x 24-hour datasets, which were collected during 17 different sampling events. In many cases, multiple sites along a stream were sampled simultaneously, so that changes in water quality along the flow path of the stream could be assessed more accurately. Field investigations have covered a variety of streams including: streams with acidic, near-neutral, and alkaline pH; streams impacted by both hard rock and coal mining; an urban storm drain; two trout streams with high nutrient loading; and a geogenically acidic river in Argentina that owes its low pH to volcanic emissions of SO2 and HCl. Chemical parameters monitored include major cations and anions, nutrients, heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Mn, Fe), As and Se, Hg (both inorganic and methylated forms), and rare earth elements.

In most cases, both filtered and unfiltered samples were collected, so that partitioning of metals between the dissolved and suspended particle forms could be evaluated. Diel changes in Fe speciation (e.g., between suspended, dissolved, Fe(II), and Fe(III) forms) have proven to be especially complex in many of the streams investigated.

Examinations of diel fluctuations in the stable isotopic composition of dissolved inorganic carbon and dissolved oxygen showed that the stable isotope composition of dissolved oxygen increased during the day and decreased at night, whereas the dissolved inorganic carbon followed the reverse pattern. These results are explained by the preferential uptake of isotopically light CO2 and the production of light O2 by aquatic plants during the day, when photosynthesis is the main biological reaction.

Further grants from the National Science Foundation will continue the groundbreaking work that was begun on diel cycles in biogeochemistry of rivers and expand the study to lakes and groundwater.

Journal Articles on this Report : 7 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 36 publications 12 publications in selected types All 11 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Gammons CH, Shope CL, Duaime TE. A 24 h investigation of the hydrogeochemistry of baseflow and stormwater in an urban area impacted by mining: Butte, Montana. Hydrological Processes 2005;19(14):2737-2753. R829400E02 (Final)
not available
Journal Article Gammons CH, Nimick DA, Parker SR, Cleasby TE, McCleskey RB. Diel behavior of iron and other heavy metals in a mountain stream with acidic to neutral pH:Fisher Creek, Montana, USA. Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta. 2005;69(10):2505-2516. R829400E02 (Final)
not available
Journal Article Gammons CH, Wood SA, Nimick DA. Diel behavior of rare earth elements in a mountain stream with acidic to neutral pH. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 2005;69(15):3747-3758. R829400E02 (Final)
not available
Journal Article Nimick DA, Gammons CH, Cleasby TE, Madison JP, Skaar D, Brick CM. Diel cycles in dissolved metal concentrations in streams:occurrence and possible causes. Water Resources Research 2003;39(9):1247-1264. R829400E01 (2002)
R829400E02 (Final)
R832441 (Final)
  • Abstract: Wiley Online - abstract
  • Journal Article Parker SR, Poulson SR, Gammons CH, DeGrandpre MD. Biogeochemical controls on diel cycling of stable isotopes of dissolved O2 and dissolved inorganic carbon in the Big Hole River, Montana. Environmental Science and Technology 2005;39(18):7134-7140. R829400E02 (Final)
  • Full-text: ACS Full Text
  • Other: ACS PDF
  • Journal Article Shope CL, Xie Y, Gammons CH. The influence of hydrous Mn-Zn oxides on diel cycling of Zn in an alkaline stream draining abandoned mine lands. Applied Geochemistry. 2006;21(3):476-491. R829400E02 (Final)
    not available
    Journal Article Wood SA, Gammons CH, Parker SR. The behavior of rare earth elements in naturally and anthropogenically acidified waters. Journal of Alloys and Compounds 2006;418(1-2):161-165. R829400E02 (Final)
    not available

    Supplemental Keywords:

    mining, toxics, Arsenic, environmental chemistry, environmental monitoring, hazardous waste, Montana, Cadmium, chemical transport models, contaminant dynamics, diel cycling, fate and transport, heavy metals, mining impacted watershed,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Geographic Area, Waste, Water, INDUSTRY, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Environmental Chemistry, Arsenic, Chemicals, State, Fate & Transport, Microbiology, Monitoring/Modeling, Hazardous Waste, Environmental Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, Water Pollutants, Industrial Processes, Hazardous, EPA Region, fate and transport, monitoring, aquatic ecosystem, contaminant transport, fate and transport , contaminant dynamics, mine tailings, mining, Region 8, analytical chemistry, chemical kinetics, chemical releases, groundwater contamination, Montana , chemical transport models, groundwater, heavy metals, mining impacted watershed, mining wastes, stream ecosystem

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2002
  • 2003 Progress Report