Metal Contamination from Gold Mining in the Cid District, North Carolina


The purpose of this paper was to assess contamination from 19th century gold (Au) mining in the Cid district, North Carolina. Sediment samples collected from active channel sediments and floodplain cores were analyzed for mercury (Hg), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn). Analysis of trace metal concentrations shows that although Hg contamination exists at relatively low levels (i.e., no samples exceeded the probable effect concentration for Hg), the active channel sediments and historical floodplain deposits are contaminated by Hg downstream from all mines in the district. We also found significant contamination by Cu, Pb, and Zn. The use of Hg and other metals as tracers associated with mining activities suggests that long-term rates of floodplain sedimentation in the Cid district (0.3-0.9 cm/yr) were less than half as high as those in the nearby Gold Hill district. This suggests that the intensity of land disturbance in the Cid district was less than in the more intensively mined Gold Hill district.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Document Type




gold mining, mercury, trace metal contamination, cid district, North Carolina

Publication Date


Journal Title

Physical Geography