Publication Details

Reference Category Conference contributions
DOI / URL link
Title (Primary) Sulfur cycling in an oil sands tailings pond
Title (Secondary) Mining meets water - conflicts and solutions : proceedings : IMWA 2016 in Leipzig, Germany, July 11-15, 2016. 2., überarbeitete und ergänzte Auflage
Author Stasik, S.; Wendt-Potthoff, K.;
Publisher Drebenstedt, C.; Paul, M.;
Year 2016
Department SEEFO;
Language englisch;
POF III (all) T31;
Keywords Oil sands tailings ponds; sulfur cycling; CH4 emissions; carbon transformation
UFZ wide themes RU2;
Abstract Oil sands tailings ponds are used as the primary storage and settling basins for toxic tailings produced
during oil sands processing in northern Alberta (Canada). As a result of microbial metabolism,
methane production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and was shown to affect tailings
densification. In particular, sulfur cycling is supposed to play a key role both for the turnover of
organic matter and the regulation of methane emissions. Adversely, the activity of sulfate-reducing
bacteria (SRB) is likely to generate huge quantities of toxic H2S, which pose a strong concern for both
gas- and water-phase environments in the vicinity of the ponds.
In order to identify reactive zones of sulfur cycling and to assess the impact of microbial sulfate
reduction on organic matter transformation and CH4 emissions, biogeochemical analyses of original
tailings from two vicinal pond profiles were combined with a number of laboratory experiments
performed under well-defined conditions.
In conclusion, results give evidence that H2S outgassing from the pond is effectively prevented by the
biochemical re-oxidation and primary incorporation of H2S into iron sulfide minerals. As
demonstrated by the long-term incubation of original tailings in anoxic microcosms, considerable
volumes of CH4 emissions may be prevented by the activity of SRB in sulfidic tailings between 3.5–
7.5 m in situ. In addition, results show that microbial sulfate reduction is essential for the anaerobic
mineralisation of labile organic matter with significance for tailings ponds carbon cycle and gas
production.
ID 18905
Persistent UFZ Identifier http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=20939&ufzPublicationIdentifier=18905
Stasik, S., Wendt-Potthoff, K. (2016):
Sulfur cycling in an oil sands tailings pond
In: Drebenstedt, C., Paul, M. (eds.)
Mining meets water - conflicts and solutions : proceedings : IMWA 2016 in Leipzig, Germany, July 11-15, 2016. 2., überarbeitete und ergänzte Auflage
TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Freiberg, p. 1042 - 1049