Applied Geochemistry (v.17, #5)

Current Lit Survey (III-IV).

The range of As concentrations found in natural waters is large, ranging from less than 0.5 μg l−1 to more than 5000 μg l−1. Typical concentrations in freshwater are less than 10 μg l−1 and frequently less than 1 μg l−1. Rarely, much higher concentrations are found, particularly in groundwater. In such areas, more than 10% of wells may be ‘affected’ (defined as those exceeding 50 μg l−1) and in the worst cases, this figure may exceed 90%. Well-known high-As groundwater areas have been found in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, China and Hungary, and more recently in West Bengal (India), Bangladesh and Vietnam. The scale of the problem in terms of population exposed to high As concentrations is greatest in the Bengal Basin with more than 40 million people drinking water containing ‘excessive’ As. These large-scale ‘natural’ As groundwater problem areas tend to be found in two types of environment: firstly, inland or closed basins in arid or semi-arid areas, and secondly, strongly reducing aquifers often derived from alluvium. Both environments tend to contain geologically young sediments and to be in flat, low-lying areas where groundwater flow is sluggish. Historically, these are poorly flushed aquifers and any As released from the sediments following burial has been able to accumulate in the groundwater. Arsenic-rich groundwaters are also found in geothermal areas and, on a more localised scale, in areas of mining activity and where oxidation of sulphide minerals has occurred. The As content of the aquifer materials in major problem aquifers does not appear to be exceptionally high, being normally in the range 1–20 mg kg−1. There appear to be two distinct ‘triggers’ that can lead to the release of As on a large scale. The first is the development of high pH (>8.5) conditions in semi-arid or arid environments usually as a result of the combined effects of mineral weathering and high evaporation rates. This pH change leads either to the desorption of adsorbed As (especially As(V) species) and a range of other anion-forming elements (V, B, F, Mo, Se and U) from mineral oxides, especially Fe oxides, or it prevents them from being adsorbed. The second trigger is the development of strongly reducing conditions at near-neutral pH values, leading to the desorption of As from mineral oxides and to the reductive dissolution of Fe and Mn oxides, also leading to As release. Iron (II) and As(III) are relatively abundant in these groundwaters and SO4 concentrations are small (typically 1 mg l−1 or less). Large concentrations of phosphate, bicarbonate, silicate and possibly organic matter can enhance the desorption of As because of competition for adsorption sites. A characteristic feature of high groundwater As areas is the large degree of spatial variability in As concentrations in the groundwaters. This means that it may be difficult, or impossible, to predict reliably the likely concentration of As in a particular well from the results of neighbouring wells and means that there is little alternative but to analyse each well. Arsenic-affected aquifers are restricted to certain environments and appear to be the exception rather than the rule. In most aquifers, the majority of wells are likely to be unaffected, even when, for example, they contain high concentrations of dissolved Fe.

This study examined the sorption of trace metals to precipitates formed by neutralization of 3 natural waters contaminated with acid mine drainage (AMD) in the former Ducktown Mining District, Tennessee. The 3 water samples were strongly acidic (pH 2.2 to 3.4) but had distinctively different chemical signatures based on the mole fractions of dissolved Fe, Al and Mn. One sample was Fe-rich (Fe=87.5%, Al=11.3%, and Mn=1.3%), another was Al-rich (Al=79.4%, Mn=18.0%, and Fe=2.5%), and the other was Mn-rich (Mn=51.4%, Al=25.7%, and Fe=22.9%). In addition, these waters had high concentrations of trace metals including Zn (37,700 to 17,400 μg/l), Cu (13,000 to 270 μg/l), Co (1,500 to 520 μg/l), Ni (360 to 75 μg/l), Pb (30 to 8 μg/l), and Cd (30 to 6 μg/l). Neutralization of the AMD-contaminated waters in the laboratory caused the formation of either schwertmannite at pH<4 or ferrihydrite at pH>4. Both phases were identified by XRD analyses of precipitates from the most Fe-rich water. At higher pH values (∼5) Al-rich precipitates were formed. Manganese compounds were precipitated at pH∼8. The removal of trace metals depended on the precipitation of these compounds, which acted as sorbents. Accordingly, the pH for 50% sorption (pH50) ranged from 5.6 to 7.5 for Zn, 4.6 to 6.1 for Cu, 5.4 to 7.7 for Ni, 5.9 to 7.9 for Co, 3.1 to 4.3 for Pb, and 5.5 to 7.7 for Cd. The pH dependence of sorption arose not only because of changes in the sorption coefficients of the trace metals but also because the formation and composition of the sorbent was controlled by the pH, the chemical composition of the water, and the solubilities of the oxyhydroxide-sulfate complexes of Fe, Al, and Mn.

This study identifies and quantifies the water–rock interactions responsible for the composition of 25 spring waters, and derives the weathering rates of rock-forming minerals in a complex of petrologic units containing ultramafics, amphibolites, augengneisses and micaschists. Bulk chemical analyses were used to calculate the mineralogical composition of these rocks; the composition of the rock-forming minerals were determined by microprobe analyses. The soils developed on augengneisses and micaschists contain predominantly halloysite; on the other units mixtures of halloysite and smectites. The mineralogical and chemical data on rocks and soils are essential for writing the proper weathering reactions and for solving mole balances between the amounts of weathered primary minerals and secondary products formed (soils and solutes in groundwater). Ground waters emanating in springs were collected in 3 consecutive seasons, namely late Summer, Winter and Spring, and analyzed for major components. Using an algorithm based on mole and charge balance equations, the average concentrations of the solutes were linked with a combination of possible weathering reactions. To sort out the best match of weathering reactions and the concomitantly generated water composition, the results were checked against the limiting condition of similarity between the predicted and actual clay mineral abundance in the soils. Having selected the best-fit weathering reactions, the mineral weathering rates could also be calculated by combining the median discharge rates and recharge areas of the springs and normalizing the rates by the mineral abundance. For the one case—plagioclase—for which comparison with published results was possible, the results compare favorably with rates calculated by other groups. For the most abundant primary minerals the following order of decreasing weathering rates was found (in moles/(ha·a·%mineral)): forsterite (485) > clinozoisite (114) > chlorite (49) > plagioclase (45) > amphibole (28). In as far as this order differs from commonly used orders of weatherability, this has to be due to differences in the hydrologic regime within this area and between this and other case studies. As additional objective, the authors wanted to explain the effects of contributions by sources other than water-rock interactions. The latter processes are coupled with acquisition of carbonate alkalinity and dissolved silica. Contributions by sources other than water–rock interactions are manifest by the Cl, SO2− 4 and NO 3 concentrations. It was possible to approximate the contribution of atmospheric deposition. More importantly, knowledge of the application and composition of fertilizers enabled assessment of the effects of farming on the composition of ground waters emanating in the springs. It was also possible to estimate how selective uptake of nutrients and cations by vegetation as well as ion-exchange processes in the soil modified the spring water composition. Using this rather holistic approach, it is possible to satisfactorily explain how spring waters, in this petrologically and agriculturally diverse area, acquired their composition.

The objective of this study was to determine the primary factors that contribute to the salinity of lakes located within the Riske Creek region of south-central British Columbia, Canada. The Riske Creek region contains numerous lakes with a salinity range of 0–10.8 ppt with high and low salinity lakes co-existing in close proximity to one another. The region is of extreme ecological importance because it is located on the Pacific flyway and serves as a major breeding ground for a number of waterfowl species. Water budgets, lake water chemistry and cation (Ca 2+, Mg 2+, Na+ and K+) interstitial water composition were determine for 9 lakes, 3 oligosaline (0 ppt), 3 mesosaline (0.4–1.0 ppt) and 3 euryhaline (2.7–5.3 ppt) to determine if evapo-precipitive or saline groundwater inputs were the primary determinants of lake salinity. Lake water budgets indicated that meso and euryhaline lakes were in a close to zero or negative water balance whereas the 3 oligosaline lakes were in a positive water balance. Groundwater saline inputs, as measured by lake sediment interstitial water cation concentrations, indicated that groundwater made only minor contributions to lake salinity. Water budget calculations and sediment interstitial water chemistry suggest that lakes are saline largely due to evaporative processes.

Sediments (568) and suspended particulate matter (SPM, 302 samples) of the southern German Bight and the adjacent tidal flat areas were analysed for selected major elements (Al, Fe, K), trace metals (Mn, Pb), and 206Pb/207Pb ratios using XRF, ICP–OES, ICP–MS. For selected samples a leaching procedure with 1 M HCl was used to estimate the Pb fraction associated with labile phases (e.g. Mn/Fe-oxihydroxide coatings) in contrast to the resistant mineral matrix. Enrichment factors versus average shale (EFS) reveal elevated Pb contents for all investigated sediments and SPM in the following order: Holocene tidal flat sediments (HTF, human-unaffected) <recent tidal flat sediments (RTF) <Helgoland Island mud hole sediments (MH) <nearshore SPM (SPM concentration>5 mg l−1) < offhore SPM (<5 mg l−1). Besides pollution, RTF contain elevated amounts of natural Pb-rich materials (K-feldspars and heavy minerals) due to a man-made high-energy environment (dike building) in comparison to HTF. 206Pb/207Pb ratios of RTF (1.192±0.019) are similar to the local geogenic background, determined from HTF (1.207±0.008). In contrast, Pb isotope ratios of nearshore SPM (1.172±0.007) and offshore SPM (1.166±0.012) show a distinct shift towards the anthropogenic/atmospheric signal of 1.11–1.14. This difference between RTF and SPM supports the assumption of low deposition rates of fine material in the intertidal systems. As the 206Pb/207Pb ratios of SPM do not reach the pure anthropogenic signal, the adsorbed Pb fraction was examined (leaching). However, the leachates also contained large amounts of geogenic Pb (SPM ≈40%, recent sediments ≈60%). The authors assume that the uptake of natural Pb occurs in nearshore waters, presumably in the turbid intertidal systems. Possible sources for dissolved Pb are mobilisation during weathering (geogenic signal) and dissolution of oxihydroxide coatings with subsequent release from porewaters, and unspecific riverine input. Comparatively small parts of SPM leave the coastal water mass and reach the open North Sea. This process therefore leads to a decontamination of the tidal flat sediments. Due to more pronounced atmospheric input, the offshore SPM becomes enriched in anthropogenic Pb as indicated by decreasing 206Pb/207Pb ratios with increasing distance from the coast.

The colloid chemistry of acid rock drainage solution from an abandoned Zn–Pb–Ag mine by Harald Zänker; Henry Moll; Wolfgang Richter; Vinzenz Brendler; Christoph Hennig; Tobias Reich; Andreas Kluge; Gudrun Hüttig (633-648).
Acid rock drainage (ARD) solution from an abandoned ore mine (pH 2.7, SO2− 4 concentration 411 mmol/l, Fe concentration 93.5 mmol/l) was investigated by photon correlation spectroscopy, centrifugation, filtration, ultrafiltration, scanning electron microscopy, ICP–MS, AAS, ion chromatography, TOC analysis, and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy. A colloid concentration of ⩾1 g/l was found. The prevailing particle size was <5 nm. Iron, As and Pb were the metal constituents of the colloidal particles. The most probable mineralogical composition of the particles is a mixture of hydronium jarosite and schwertmannite. A small amount of a relatively coarse precipitate was formed in the ARD solution during the months after sampling. The colloid particles are obviously an intermediate in the precipitate formation process. The results suggest that the arsenate is bound to the colloids by the formation of a bidentate binuclear inner-sphere surface complex. However, the transformation of the colloidal material to the more aggregated long-term precipitate results in the incorporation of the arsenate into the interior of the Fe hydroxy sulfate crystal structures. Lead seems to occur as anglesite.

Adsorption of molybdenum on to anatase from dilute aqueous solutions by K Prasad Saripalli; B.Peter McGrail; Donald C Girvin (649-656).
Adsorption of Mo on to hydrous TiO2 (anatase) particles was investigated. Batch experiments were conducted at 19 and 90 °C over a pH range of 2 to 12 and Mo concentrations ranging from approximately 10−6 to 10−4 M. The extent of sorption was strongly dependent on pH and surface loading. Maximum sorption was observed in the acidic pH range at low surface loading. Adsorption behavior was described using the empirical Langmuir adsorption model. A constant capacitance surface complexation model was also used to fit the adsorption isotherms using a ligand exchange reaction for a hydroxyl surface site on anatase. Comparison of experimental data at two different temperatures (19 and 90 °C) indicates that Mo sorption in the acidic pH range decreases with increasing temperature.