The purposes of this study were to (i) document chemical and mineralogical compositions in two naturally acidic drainages over a 1 m soil profile, (ii) document organic and inorganic signatures representative of past chemical or biological processes in the soils, and (iii) determine whether mineralogical and chemical differences are a consequence of differences in original composition, depositional conditions, or diagenesis. Two sites were studied: Paymaster Creek in the Heddleston Mining District near Lincoln, Montana and the New World Mining District near Cooke City, Montana. The oldest deposits at both naturally acidic sites pre-date human mining activity by several thousand years, although there is recent human activity at both sites. Both sites have streams with high dissolved Fe and moderately low pH and actively accumulate schwertmannite on streambeds. Soil deposits away from the streambed at Paymaster Creek contained goethite with adsorbed sulfate. but no schwertmannite, suggesting either that the original conditions precluded schwertmannite precipitation or that diagenesis occurred rapidly converting the schwertmannite to goethite. The New World Mining District site showed the expected profile, which is a gradual transition from schwertmannite- and goethite-bearing soils to goethite-only soils. Concentrations of Cr, As and other trace elements shown to retard diagenesis were higher at the New World site than at the Paymaster site. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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