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Recolonization and development of vegetation on mine spoils following brown coal mining in Lusatia

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A survey of primary colonization and succession of vegetation on various deposited substrates, littoral and shallow water areas of mining lakes and residual waters of the Lusatian lignite mining district is presented. Dumped substrates are characterized by a high acid potential which is caused by pyrite and marcasite of Tertiary origin. In the process of pyrite oxidation free mineral acids and large quantities of sulphate and bivalent iron are liberated. Residual waters are characterized by extreme acidity with pH values between 1.9 and 3.1 and by extremely high iron contents. Non-linear positive correlations are demonstrated between pH values and free mineral acids and between pH values and free carbonic acids (CO2) and bivalent iron. In aquatic, semi-aquatic and in terrestrial areas the succession of vegetation can be described by the following five main stages: stage of primary colonization and spontaneous vegetation; stage of monodominant species stands; stage of the formation of vegetation mosaics; stage of the formation of plant associations; final stage of succession.

Index species of the terrestrial colonization are Corynephorus canescens and Calamagrostis epigejos, while Juncus bulbosus is the indicator species of aquatic colonization. The succession of vegetation develops in the direction of close-to-nature vegetation conditions which are typical for the heath areas of the Lusatian Lowlands.

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Pietsch, W.H.O. Recolonization and development of vegetation on mine spoils following brown coal mining in Lusatia. Water Air Soil Pollut 91, 1–15 (1996).

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Key words

  • surface mining
  • aquatic and terrerstrial succession
  • substrate chemistry
  • mine spoils
  • mining lakes