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Nitrogen transformations at the Kiruna mine: The use of stable nitrogen isotopes to trace nitrogen-transforming processes
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, LUVAL.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Release of different nitrogen compounds can cause eutrophication in lakes and rivers whichcan lead to oxygen-free environments in bottom water and in the sediment and can in turnlead to fish-deaths. Ammonium can be toxic to biota and nitrate can in high concentrationeven be toxic to humans. WHO has released a limit for nitrate concentration in drinking waterof 10mg/l.

The LKAB mine in Kiruna is the largest underground iron mine in the world and isprospecting, mining and refining iron ore, with an annual production of around 28 milliontons. Release of different nitrogen compounds as a result of the explosives used during themining operations has been a known problem for some time; however the processes affectingnitrogen during the water transport have never been fully investigated.

The main objective of this MSc thesis is to determine if changes in nitrogen and oxygenisotope composition can be used as a tracer for nitrogen transformation processes in the minewater at LKABs underground mine in Kiruna.

Water samples were collected at key points in the water transport system and were analyzedfor isotopic composition. Isotopic and chemical data revealed two different sources of nitrateand ammonium, undetonated explosives and leachate from waste rocks. Three differentnitrogen changing processes affecting concentration of nitrate and ammonium were found:ammonium volatilization, nitrification and sorption. It was not possible to quantify theseprocesses individually. No processes which decrease the nitrate concentration were found.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 48 p.
UPTEC W, ISSN 1401-5765 ; 13035
Keyword [en]
Nitrogen, Nitrogen processes, Isotopes, Isotope tracers, Stable isotopes, Mines, Isotope analysis, Dual isotope analysis
Keyword [sv]
Kväve, Kväveprocesser, Isotoper, Spårningsisotoper, Spårningsmetod, Gruvor, Isotopanalys
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences Environmental Biotechnology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-209419OAI: diva2:657358
External cooperation
Luleå tekniska universitet
Educational program
Master Programme in Environmental and Water Engineering
Available from: 2013-12-13 Created: 2013-10-18 Last updated: 2013-12-13Bibliographically approved

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