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Silver concentrations in Welsh soils and their dispersal from derelict mine sites

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/12/1983
<mark>Journal</mark>Minerals and the Environment
Issue number4
Volume5
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)122-127
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

In west and north Wales silver was mined extensively between 1750 and 1900, where it was frequently present as its sulphide form, argentite, whilst also occurring as a guest element in galena and sphalerite. Determination of the silver content of a range of soil types from areas devoid of mines by flameless atomic absorption spectrometry established normal background levels. Soils derived from black shales, or rich in organic matter were inherently richer in silver than the sandstone or limestone derived soils examined. Soils once exposed to contamination from the mining activities of the 19th Century can still be identified as they show elevated levels of silver. Fluvially derived contamination is confined to valley floodplains, but aerial transportation of mine spoil wastes enhance metal levels around derelict mine sites. Spoil analysed from areas of different geology contained a range of silver values reflecting variations in ore type, grain size and technique of ore extraction.