Heavy metal mining and flood plain response in the upper Clyde basin, Scotland

John S. Rowan (Lead / Corresponding author), Stewart W. Franks

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    The Lowther Hills in the Southern Uplands of Scotland have a long
    history of metalliferous mining spanning over 700 years. Mining and ore
    processing generated significant quantities of metalliferous waste, but in the
    Clyde basin the geomorphological impact was largely restricted to headwater
    systems. In the mining district channel metamorphosis and flood plain
    aggradation resulted in active transformation of valley floors. With the cessation of mining, these headwater systems returned to laterally unstable singlethread gravel bed rivers. The pollution legacy remains acute with sedimentassociated Pb values in excess of 150 000 mg kg-1, surpassing UK contaminated
    land action trigger values by two orders of magnitude. Channel bank erosion
    rates of 30–50 mm year-1 are responsible for remobilizing metal-rich sediment
    from flood plain storage and now represents the dominant source of metals to
    downstream reaches. The historical and on-going significance of this process
    was evaluated 40 km downstream on the main flood plain of the River Clyde.
    At this site mining-derived sediments were incorporated by passive dispersal.
    A fingerprinting analysis indicated that the mining epoch contributed only a
    minor flux of sediment to the flood plain, nevertheless peak Pb values exceed
    1 500 mg kg-1 illustrating more pernicious geochemical impacts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe structure, function and management implications of fluvial sedimentary systems
    EditorsFiona J. Dyer, Martin C. Thoms, Jon M. Olley
    Place of PublicationWallingford
    PublisherInternational Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS)
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Print)978-1-901502-96-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

    Publication series

    NameIAHS Publications


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