Ebullition enhances chemical mass transport across the tailings-water interface of oil sands pit lakes
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Base Mine Lake (BML) was the first commercial-scale demonstration oil sands pit lake established in northern Alberta, Canada. Recent studies indicate that ebullition enhances internal mass loading of dissolved constituents during settlement and dewatering of methanogenic fine fluid tailings (FFT) below the overlying water cap. Here, we describe results of integrated field measurements and numerical modelling to (i) determine potential for ebullition and enhanced mixing within BML, and (ii) assess impacts on chemical mass transport across the tailings-water interface. We observed sharp increases in [CH4(aq)] with depth from < 0.1 mg L−1 immediately above the interface to > 60 mg L−1 over the upper 1.5 to 3.0 m of FTT. Thermodynamic modelling revealed that maximum [CH4(aq)] values represent 60 to 80 % of theoretical saturation, and corresponding total dissolved gas pressures approach or exceed fluid pressures. These findings supported integration of enhanced mixing into one-dimensional (1-D) advective-dispersive transport models, which substantially improved upon previous simulations of conservative tracer (i.e., Cl−) profiles and chemical mass fluxes. The models revealed a positive relationship between CH4(aq) saturation and enhanced mixing, showing that ebullition enhance internal mass loading. This information has potential to inform ongoing assessments of pit lake performance and support improved closure and reclamation planning at oil sands mines.
CitationFrancis , D.J., Barbour, S.L. & Lindsay, M.B.J. (2022). Ebullition enhances chemical mass transport across the tailings-water interface of oil sands pit lakes. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 245, February, 103938–103938, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jconhyd.2021.103938
Description© 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
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