Evaluation of Sulfidic Materials in Virginia Highway Corridors
Orndorff, Zenah Wilson
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Road construction through sulfidic materials in Virginia has resulted in localized acid rock drainage (ARD) that threatens water quality, fill stability, integrity of building materials, and vegetation management. The objectives of this study were: i) to develop a state-wide sulfide hazard rating map based on characterization of the geologic formations associated with acid roadcuts, ii) to estimate depth to sulfidic sediments in the Coastal Plain based on landscape relationships, and iii) to evaluate potential acidity testing procedures on diverse materials. Geologic formations associated with acid roadcuts were characterized by potential peroxide acidity (PPA) and S content, and grouped into four categories. Listed in order of increasing severity, these formations included: the Tabb Formation (Coastal Plain), the Lynchburg Group of the Ashe Formation (Blue Ridge), the Chesapeake Group and Lower Tertiary deposits (Coastal Plain), the Millboro shale, Marcellus shale, Chatanooga shale and Needmore Formation (Valley and Ridge), and the Quantico Formation (Piedmont). Evaluation of landscape parameters near Richmond, Virginia, indicated that the likelihood of encountering sulfidic materials within a given depth at a specific location was related to elevation and mapped soil types. Elevation and soil map units were assigned to risk classes to indicate the likelihood of encountering sulfides within a depth of 9 m. Comparison of PPA and S content for 296 diverse samples indicated that S may serve as a screening tool to evaluate materials without carbonates. Comparison of PPA and conventional Acid-Base Accounting (ABA) for 14 diverse samples indicated that PPA and ABA were highly correlated, with PPA yielding 0.60 to 0.95X the amount of acidity as ABA. Potential acidity by Soxhlet extraction and PPA were equivalent for 3 of 4 diverse samples. Average acidity and metal contents of leachate from Soxhlet extractors were correlated with acidity and metals of road drainage. Sulfide hazard analysis should be an essential step in the pre-design phase of highway construction and other earth-disturbing activities.
- Doctoral Dissertations