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Hydrogeology and effects of tailings basins on the hydrology of Sands Plain, Marquette County, Michigan, 1984

By: Grannemann, N. G.


A hydrogeological study of Sands Plain, a sandy outwash area in the north-central part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, was conducted during 1979-82. Parts of the area are being considered as possible sites for construction and operation of iron mining tailings basins. Gribben Basin, an existing tailings basin in the western part of Sands Plains, covers 2.5 square miles; hypothetical tailings basins may cover as much as 11 square miles. Glacial deposits are the area's principal aquifer. The general direction of ground-water flow is from the outwash area toward Lake Superior. Before reaching Lake Superior, however, most ground water is discharged in a series of nearly parallel streams. Ground water accounts for 95 percent of the discharge of these streams. Precipitation collected at two sites had average pH values of 4.0. Dissolved solids concentrations in water from wells ranged from 41 to 246 milligrams per liter; in water from streams, they ranged from 82 to 143 milligrams per liter. Calcium and bicarbonate were the principal dissolved ions. A two-dimensional digital model of ground-water flow was used to simulate ground-water levels and runoff. The predictive computer simulations indicate that construction and operation of Gribben tailings basin, located in the western part of the study area, decreased ground-water flow to Goose Lake Outlet by 0.9 to 1.6 cubic feet per second. Construction and operation of four hypothetical tailings basins covering a total of 11 square miles is estimated to reduce ground-water flow to the area's streams by 7 to 18 cubic feet per second depending on the hydraulic properties of material comprising the basin boundaries. Leakage from all of the basins is estimated to range from 0.7 to 7 cubic feet per second. (USGS)

RECORD ID: 8601927

F&G CODE: 02f; 04c

Grannemann, N.G., 1984, Hydrogeology and effects of tailings basins on the hydrology of Sands Plain, Marquette County, Michigan: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 84-4114, 98 p.

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