US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Environ Monit Assess (2010) 163:619–641; DOI 10.1007/s10661-009-0864-2


The Viburnum Trend lead–zinc mining subdistrict is located in the southeast Missouri portion of the Ozark Plateau. In 2003 and 2004, we assessed the ecological effects of mining in several watersheds in the region. We included macroinvertebrate surveys, habitat assessments, and analysis of metals in sediment, pore water, and aquatic biota. Macroinvertebrates were sampled at 21 sites to determine aquatic life impairment status (full, partial, or nonsupport) and relative biotic condition scores. Macroinvertebrate biotic condition scores were significantly correlated with cadmium, nickel, lead, zinc, and specific conductance in 2003 (r = −0.61 to −0.68) and with cadmium, lead, and pore water toxic units in 2004 (r = −0.55 to −0.57). Reference sites were fully supporting of aquatic life and had the lowest metals concentrations and among the highest biotic condition scores in both years. Sites directly downstream from mining and related activities were partially supporting, with biotic condition scores 10% to 58% lower than reference sites. Sites located greater distances downstream from mining activities had intermediate scores and concentrations of metals. Results indicate that elevated concentrations of metals originating from mining activities were the underlying cause of aquatic life impairment in several of the streams studied. There was a general concurrence among the adversely affected sites in how the various indicators responded to the mining activities during the overall study.