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Data from: Short-term microbial effects of a large-scale mine-tailing storage facility collapse on the local natural environment

Citation

Garris, Heath W. et al. (2019), Data from: Short-term microbial effects of a large-scale mine-tailing storage facility collapse on the local natural environment, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.d52df21

Abstract

We investigated the impacts of the Mount Polley tailings impoundment failure on chemical, physical, and microbial properties of substrates within the affected watershed, comprised of 70 hectares of riparian wetlands and 40 km of stream and lake shore. We established a biomonitoring network in October of 2014, two months following the disturbance, and evaluated riparian and wetland substrates for microbial community composition and function via 16S and full metagenome sequencing. A total of 234 samples were collected from substrates at 3 depths and 1,650,752 sequences were recorded in a geodatabase framework. These data revealed a wealth of information regarding watershed-scale distribution of microbial community members, as well as community composition, structure, and response to disturbance. Substrates associated with the impact zone were distinct chemically as indicated by elevated pH, nitrate, and sulphate. The microbial community exhibited elevated metabolic capacity for selenate and sulfate reduction and an abundance of chemolithoautotrophs in the Thiobacillus thiophilus/T. denitrificans/T. thioparus clade that may contribute to nitrate attenuation within the affected watershed. The most impacted area (a 6km stream connecting two lakes) exhibited 30% lower microbial diversity relative to the remaining sites. The tailings impoundment failure at Mount Polley Mine has provided a unique opportunity to evaluate functional and compositional diversity soon after a major catastrophic disturbance to assess metabolic potential for ecosystem recovery.

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Location

52°31'13.70"N 121°35'53.37"W
LIkely BC CANADA