Mine Acid Decant Western Area
A Health Issue for The South African Aquifer

Groundwater Invertebrates
Cave Amphipoda

A mine acid decant was predicted in Gov financed publications as early as 1995. This decant and the subsequent research did not identify that the acid water would ultimately decant into fresh potable groundwater reserves.

Up to five years back, heavy metals poisoning was becoming prevalent around the point of decant prior to the commencement of surface flow. All animals including humans were the casualties.

In August 2002 almost to the forecast date, the brew/cocktail of sulphate based heavy metals started to flow from any conceivable spring, mine ventilation and mine shaft at this lowest altitude just south of the now collapsing (both figuratively and literally) Krugersdorp Game Park west of Mogale City.

Theorists (possibly those who got us into the mess we are in - The Mine Geohydrologists) initially thought that this decant was directly attributable to the two largest gold mine tailings dams in South Africa. This was later proved to be incorrect due to the amount of water resurgence experienced seasonally.

The decant was also predicted to flow to the south into the Wonderfontein catchment, consisting of some of the most extensive dolomite (karst) areas. This was also said to be desirable by those geohydrologists.

In the mean time much international best practice was beginning to emerge around the “Dolomite/Palindaba Rock” that we are privileged to have an abundance of! This geology acquired a new name called Karst. As this geology has now (1948 rest of world) been identified as one of the most sensitive to pollutants of any kind, as the geology is remarkable in its water carrying and its ability to purify rainwater to acceptable potable limits.

Unfortunately highly fractured and defuse as detailed in a South African publication” The Story of Life and Earth” by Mc McCarthy and Rubidge. They explain how meteorites and plate tectonics have fractured this dolomite almost like the shattering of a motor vehicle windscreen.

Our karst is some of the oldest in the world (paleaokarst). A huge hydrologically dynamic system that has baffled and eluded even those who “profess” to be masters/scientists on the topic.

This karst, once sediment, was laid down over millions, if not billions of years and is still evolving. As karst is a carbon dioxide sink, balancing the CO2 effect/s on/of global warming. It is also seen as a weather moderator being responsible for report and delivery of our rainfall patterns.

During deep mining operations we have inadvertently connected multiple natural catchments by interconnecting all the historical mining shafts/tunnels throughout the entire eastern, central and western JHB mining voids. Creating a diversionary storm water drainage system that unfortunately decants at the lowest altitude.
The position just south of the Krugersdorp Game Park.
Reports of animals dieing as a result of Mine Acid Drainage have been prolific for the last two years and we have failed to respond. Gauteng’s Dept. Health, Epidemiology has no idea about the detrimental decant of heavy metals.
Including dissolved Uranium! Prevalent in the Wits (gold bearing) geology. Each heavy metal providing a unique mineral dissolving phoebe or bacterial colony.

Not to mention the differing hazardous leads that will precipitate during this dissolution of the uranium and other toxic heavy metals. The lead1,2,3,4 compounds (some in aerosol form) have reportedly caused untold human toxification. To be remedied (should they be fortunate enough) at their own expense. DME

The Council for Geosciences have been very active with regards all aspects of this heavy metal poisoning, as their own staff have personal projects in the making re the deleterious nature of the heavy metal contaminated decant. If this is truly the case, these sufferers/patients have the right to know why the investigating geohydrologists or physicists/practitioners felt that the Dept Health should not be involved.

We are also dealing with some academic ignorance of the ultimate direction of this toxic water's flow.
As a result of this sedimentary succession being laid down in the form of an Achaean sea. Then, the 2100 million year time laps before humans evolved into what we are today. This sea was subject to a proverbial bombardment of diverse environmental stresses. Volcanic - meteorite - tectonic impacts fracturing the sediment and all associated igneous (volcanic) infill rock within this sedimentary now solidified three dimensional inland sea or water body. Aquifer.

Most well versed karst hydrologists will always view karst deposition in a sedimentary way. A bowl shaped geology containing many differing layers which host a plethora of life’s answers, groundwater conduits and channels still to be explored.

The ultimate realisations are that the karst basins or bowls all have a central point to the host basin, too which groundwater will always flow. Typically interspersed by a series of hydrothermal springs (hot water) as we have in the Warm Baths, Bella Bella area. These thermal springs are the clues to the karst basin hydrologist. Including the fact that they emanate from deep-seated buried karst. Chem data.

After investigations more hydrothermal springs were found at the lowest most altitudes within our huge basin. Located near Grobelarsdal and Thabazimbi respectively.
These clues, along with the water chemistry indicating karst water and C14 studies (to determine rough age of water) of these hydrothermal vents, indicate that they are indeed a part of a huge dynamic karst system, residing underneath the economically important geological structure called - The Bushveld Igneous Complex - or BIC.

That would mean that a huge plug (from differing events) of volcanic infill covers (protects) this once huge inland Achaean sea. Now a hydrological karst dynamic system called The South African Aquifer, (The SAA) of which the lateral limits have still to be identified.

Many linkages between The SAA’s northern and southern visible karst exist. I.e. a direct link through a documented geological fault system, from Mogale City JHB via Hartabeespoort dam through to Thabazimbi - Bella Bella can be demonstrated. The current decant emanating from Mogale City will ultimately saturate groundwater reserves between these points, if allowed to continue unabated.

Another interesting link to Pretoria from Bella Bella also exists. This may not be direct as in the Hartabeespoort Thabazimbi connection but it does exist. The CGS. More funding and research is required.

The entire SAA is under direct diverse pollutant threat. It has been for many decades as a result of past academic bias to the profession that makes demands of this specialisation. We have to address the globality of the destructive nature of the toxicity of this man made also natural phenomenon. For us to allow this pollution to migrate is an indictment to our intellect.

Our economy is certainly at risk here as the mineral wealth that we are so proud of, is being slowly diluted and being washed by the most important life giving geology. Karst. A unsustainable situation with disastrous effects.

A very undesirable situation. As this will lead to untold casualties from all walks of life as is happening at "Ground Zero" Mogale City at this time.

A vastly economic, detrimental phobic reaction is currently being fed by our ongoing ignorance around the KARST topic. The Government needs to establish a karst groundwater task team with unlimited funding until we can at the very least start to reverse the destruction done over the last 120 years.

Mike Buchanan March 2006

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