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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 3, p. 1008-1014
    Received: July 5, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): janusz.zwiazek@ualberta.ca
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Responses of Red-Osier Dogwood to Oil Sands Tailings Treated with Gypsum or Alum

  1. E. Redfielda,
  2. C. Crosera,
  3. J. J. Zwiazek *a,
  4. M. D. MacKinnonb and
  5. C. Qualizzac
  1. a Dep. of Renewable Resources, 442 Earth Sciences Bldg., Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E3
    b Syncrude Canada Ltd., Edmonton Research Centre, 9421 17 Avenue, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6N 1H4
    c Environment Dep., Syncrude Canada Ltd., P.O. Bag 4009, M.D. 0078, Fort McMurray, AB, Canada T9H 3L1


The application of composite or consolidated tailings (CT) technology provides Alberta's oil sands industry with a means of reducing the volume of the fines fraction in extraction tailings and allows for faster reclamation and revegetation of mining sites. This study examined the effects of coagulant aids (gypsum and alum), used in the production of CT, on the ion content, growth, and survival of greenhouse-grown red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea L. subsp. sericea). Seedlings were planted in gypsum-CT and alum-CT substrates, and compared with those planted in reclamation material (salvaged peat and till). The seedlings were bottom-watered with one of the following: (i) Hoagland mineral solution prepared in deionized water (Epstein, 1972); (ii) Hoagland solution in gypsum-based CT release water; or (iii) Hoagland solution in alum-based CT release water. Pore water of CT substrates and CT release waters had similar chemical characteristics, including salinity levels. However, plants in CT substrates had higher concentrations of ions (particularly Na and B), reduced growth, and higher mortality than plants in reclamation material and treated with CT waters. The presence of H2S indicated low-oxygen conditions in the CT substrates, while in the reclamation materials with CT release water treatments, no evidence of sulfides was observed. Low-oxygen conditions in the CT substrate treatments may have interfered with plant exclusion mechanisms for Na and B. Therefore, substrate properties may modify responses of reclamation plants to pore water chemistry due to the effects on oxygen availability to roots.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.32:1008–1014.