Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.Sc.

Department

Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research

First Advisor

Christopher G Weisener

Keywords

athabasca, biostabilization, chemical, flux, redox, tailings

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

Extraction of raw bitumen from the Athabasca Oil Sands through open-pit mining produces waste materials called tailings, which are housed in large settling basins called tailings ponds. As consolidation of fines (sands, silts and clays) occurs, biogeochemical cycling of nutrients and an overall REDOX environment establishes, as with any natural wetland or lake sediment environment. These biogeochemical processes play a role in the dynamic nature of these tailings ponds over time, and directly implicate the future fate of these ponds as they are prepared for reclamation to wetlands or End-Pit Lake environments. This thesis tracks general chemistry and physico-chemical gradients within two different tailings materials over the course of the study, providing measurements of O2 and HS- diffusive flux measurements at the tailings-water interface. Further, the effects of biota on the stabilization of these tailings materials, when subjected to an applied shear stress at the interface is studied, with implications on sediment/contaminant erosion and transport.

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