Combined DC resistivity and induced polarization (DC-IP) for mapping the internal composition of a mine waste rock pile in Nova Scotia, Canada

Christopher Power, Panagiotis Tsourlos, Murugan Ramasamy, Aristeidis Nivorlis, Martin Mkandawire

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33 Citations (SciVal)


Mine waste rock piles (WRPs) can contain sulfidic minerals whose interaction with oxygen and water can generate acid mine drainage (AMD). Thus, WRPs can be a long-term source of environmental pollution. Since the generation of AMD and its release into the environment is dependent on the net volume and bulk composition of waste rock, effective characterization of WRPs is necessary for successful remedial design and monitoring. In this study, a combined DC resistivity and induced polarization (DC-IP) approach was employed to characterize an AMD-generating WRP in the Sydney Coalfield, Nova Scotia, Canada. Two-dimensional (2D) DC-IP imaging with 6 survey lines was performed to capture the full WRP landform. 2D DC results indicated a highly heterogeneous and moderately conductive waste rock underlain by a resistive bedrock containing numerous fractures. 2D IP (chargeability) results identified several highly-chargeable regions within the waste, with normalized chargeability delineating regions specific to waste mineralogy only. Three-dimensional (3D) DC-IP imaging, using 17 parallel lines on the plateau of the pile, was then used to focus on the composition of the waste rock. The full 3D inverted DC-IP distributions were used to identify coincident and continuous zones (isosurfaces) of low resistivity (<30 Ω-m) and high normalized chargeability (>0.4 mS/m) that were inferred as generated AMD (leachate) and stored AMD (sulfides), respectively. Integrated geological, hydrogeological and geochemical data increased confidence in the geoelectrical interpretations. Knowledge on the location of potentially more reactive waste material is extremely valuable for improved long-term AMD monitoring at the WRP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-51
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Geophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geotechnical Engineering


  • Acid mine drainage
  • Electrical resistivity
  • Geoelectrical characterization
  • Groundwater contamination
  • Normalized chargeability
  • Sulfide minerals


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