The mother lode of contaminated sites
September 2, 2010 2:45 PM Subscribe
NASA once sent a robot in
- and nobody ever saw the machine again or collected any scientific data from it...
The Iron Mountain Mine, outside of Redding, is a hellish pit where acid water sloshes against your boots, greenish bacterial slime gurgles out of the walls, and stalactites and stalagmites of acid salt, copper and iron jut out like rusty daggers.
The low pH level
and the heavy metal contamination from the mine have caused the virtual elimination of aquatic life in sections of Slickrock Creek, Boulder Creek, and Spring Creek.
Chemistry textbooks usually describe pH values as ranging from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Values of pH near 0 are highly acidic, becoming less acidic and more alkaline at the higher numbers. Because pH is measured on a logarithmic scale, each declining unit represents 10 times more acidity. Alpers said several of the drip-water samples at Iron Mountain had pH values below zero, indicating hydrogen ion activities greater than one. The lowest pH found at the site was -3.6
On the upside, it has colorful slime, weird bacteria, and rocks that burst into flame!