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Microbial sulfate reduction (MSR) as nature-based solution (NBS) to mine drainage: Contrasting spatio-temporal conditions in northern Europe
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  • Sandra Fischer,
  • Carl-Magnus Mörth,
  • Gunhild Rosqvist,
  • Sergey Chalov,
  • Vasiliy Efimov,
  • Jerker Jarsjö
Sandra Fischer
Stockholm University

Corresponding Author:sandra.fischer@natgeo.su.se

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Carl-Magnus Mörth
Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University
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Gunhild Rosqvist
Stockholm University
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Sergey Chalov
Faculty of Geography, M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University
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Vasiliy Efimov
Faculty of Geography, M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University
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Jerker Jarsjö
Stockholm University
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An emerging solution in mine waste remediation is the use of biological processes, such as microbial sulfate reduction (MSR), to immobilize metals, reducing their bioavailability and buffering the pH of acid mine drainage. Apart from laboratory tests and local observations of natural MSR in e.g. single wetlands, little is known about spatio-temporal characteristics of freshwater MSR from multiple locations within entire hydrological catchments. We here applied an isotopic fractionation (δ34S-values in SO42-) and Monte-Carlo based mixing analysis scheme to detect MSR and its variation across two major mining regions (Imetjoki, Sweden and Khibiny, Russia) in the Arctic part of Europe under different seasonal conditions. Results indicate a range of catchment-scale MSR-values in the Arctic of ~ 5-20% where the low end of the range was associated with the non-vegetated, mountainous terrain of the Khibiny catchment, having low levels of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). The high-end of the range was related to vegetated conditions provided by the Imetjoki catchment that also contains wetlands, lakes and local aquifers. These prolong hydrological residence times and support MSR hot-spots reaching values of ~40%. Present results additionally show evidence of MSR-persistence over different seasons, indicating large potential, even under relatively cold conditions, of using MSR as part of nature-based solutions to mitigate adverse impacts of (acid) mine drainage. The results call for more detailed investigations regarding potential field-scale correlations between MSR and individual landscape and hydro-climatic characteristics, which e.g. can be supported by the here utilized isotopic fractionation and mixing scheme.
Apr 2022Published in Water Resources Research volume 58 issue 4. 10.1029/2021WR031777