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TitleDo peat amendments to oil sands wet sediments affect Carex aquatilis biomass for reclamation success?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsRoy, M. - C., Mollard F. P. O., & Foote L. A.
Pagination9 pages
Date Published06/2014
PublisherJournal of Environmental Management
Publication Languageeng
Keywordsaquatic vegetation, peat, tailings water, UofA, wetlands

The oil sands industries of Alberta (Canada) have reclamation objectives to return the mined landscape to equivalent pre-disturbance land capability. Industrial operators are charged with reclaiming a vast landscape of newly exposed sediments on saline-sodic marine-shales sediments. Incorporated in these sediments are by-products resulting from bitumen extraction (consolidated tailings (CT), tailings-sand (TS), and oil sands processed water (OSPW)). A sedge community dominated by Carex aquatilis was identified as a desirable and representative late-succession community for wet-meadow zones of oil sands-created marshes. However, the physical and chemical conditions, including high salinity and low nutrient content of CT and TS sediments suppress plant growth and performance. We experimentally tested the response of C. aquatilis to amendments with peat-mineral-mix (PM) on oil sand sediments (CT and TS). In a two factorial design experiment, we also tested the effects of OSPW on C. aquatilis. We assessed survival, below- and aboveground biomass, and physiology (chlorophyll a fluorescence). We demonstrated that PM amendments to oil sands sediments significantly increased C. aquatilis survival as well as below and aboveground biomass. The use of OSPW significantly reduced C. aquatilis belowground biomass and affected its physiological performance. Due to its tolerance and performance, we verified that C. aquatilis was a good candidate for use in reclaiming the wet-meadow zones of oil sands-created marshes. Ultimately, amending CT and TS with PM expedited the reclamation of the wetland to a C. aquatilis-community which was similar in gross structure to undisturbed wetlands of the region.

Locational Keywords

Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR)

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