At times, with man's conscious help or more often by happenstance, nature has reclaimed her birthright. An example of the former is the reclamation of rock quarries into parks. An example of the latter is the reforestation of eastern North America following the (1) opening to settlement of the Midwestern prairies and (2) cessation of demand for pasture land for horses with the commencement of the automobile age.
An extreme example of nature reclaiming it's own may be found at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The radiation generated in this incident resulted in the removal of all human inhabitants over a large swath of land surrounding the site. This 'Nature' video shows how wildlife, including wolves and bison, have reclaimed the land.
New Almaden Quicksilver Mine
Rebirth of nature on lands impacted by the processing of toxic substances, such as the mercury involved at the New Almaden Quicksilver mine, can be most gratifying. Before and after images of various sites at the former mine show the progress in reclamation since the mining era ended.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries mercury was a primary ingredient in the manufacturing process for hats and in refining gold. Mercury is one of the most toxic elements. Such toxicity is a key characteristic of the mining and processing of mercury. Pure mercury is a liquid metal, sometimes referred to as quicksilver that volatilizes readily. Mercury in the air eventually settles into water or onto land where it can be washed into water. Once deposited, certain microorganisms can change it into methylmercury, a highly toxic form. The term 'crazy as a hatter' is indicative of its toxicity to workers in that industry. The principal source for mercury is the red ore called Cinnabar.