Abstract by Delaney Rose
Mercury in Mary Ellen Gulch and American Fork Canyon
Mary Ellen Gulch (American Fork Canyon, UT) was mined historically, and contaminated tailings left untouched for many years. The extent and ecological impacts of this waste are not yet fully understood. We have analyzed sediment and water for Hg in and around Mary Ellen Gulch and Tibble Fork Reservoir. High levels of Hg in the soil around Tibble Fork were detected, enough to warrant concern. Future plans include Hg analysis of more soil and water samples, and tissue samples from fish and plants. Mary Ellen Gulch is a popular recreational location, and people are at risk from the contaminated tailings (EPA). Mary Ellen Creek is a tributary of the American Fork River (an important water source used by many people in Utah Valley). Contamination from sources like this in the upper watershed can become concentrated and later flushed downstream, affecting the ecosystem in catastrophic ways (Tibble Fork spill, 2016). Understanding the extent and impact of contamination in Mary Ellen Gulch will allow for better waste remediation for all mines in the area.