Internal mixing in a mine lake

Anita Huber

    Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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    [Truncated abstract] Mine lakes are a water body created after an open-cut mine ceases operating. The lakes develop in the former mine-pit due to the combination of groundwater inflow, surface run-off and, in some cases, due to rapid filling from river diversion. While potentially valuable water resources, these lakes often have poor water quality and managing the water body is an important part of the overall process of mine site rehabilitation. As mine lakes form in man-made pits, they have a bathymetry that is typically quite distinct from natural lakes and this can, in turn, strongly influence the hydrodynamics and hence the water quality of the water body. Despite the potential importance of these water bodies, there have been very few studies on the hydrodynamics of mine lakes. This study describes a field investigation of the hydrodynamics of a former coal mine lake, Lake Kepwari, in south-western Western Australia. In particular, this study examines the hydrodynamic processes in both the surface mixing layers and the internal mixing in the density stratified lake. Wind sheltering in the surface mixing layer occurs due to the presence of the steep walls and lake embankments. A week long field experiment was conducted in December 2003 using a combination of moored thermistor chains with meteorological stations and the deployment of rapid vertical profiling turbulent microstructure instruments and CTD drops from two boats operating on the lake. ... Simulations indicated that inclusion of a site specific sheltering effect, based on the results of the field campaign, significantly improved the models‘ performance in capturing the surface mixed layer deepening associated with episodic strong wind events that occur on the lake. Considerable internal mixing was indicated by the high dissipation rates observed, particularly near the boundaries. Large basin-wide diffusivities were also calculated from the heat budget method over long periods, showed a consistency with time, and were slightly higher in summer than during the Autumn Winter period. Although light, there are persistent winds over the lake and yet little basin-scale internal wave activity or seiching. It is hypothesized that any seiching motion was rapidly damped by strong mixing over the hydraulically rough bathymetry bathymetry created by the remnant benches from the open cut mining operation itself. This boundary mixing, in turn, drives secondary relaxation currents that transport mixed fluid from the boundaries to the interior, resulting in high effective basin-wide diffusivities. A simple boundary mixing model is proposed to describe this process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2006


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