Crossing redox boundaries – aquifer redox history and effects on iron mineralogy and arsenic availability

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Banning, Andre
Rüde, Thomas R.
Dölling, Bettina
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Cretaceous shallow marine sediments from northwestern Germany exhibit a distinct colour and geochemical boundary in a depth of several decametres, witnessing a terrestrial oxidative paleo redox process which resulted in cement loss and oxidation of Fe(II) phases. Sediment samples were obtained from boreholes drilled in near-coastal and further basinward paleo environments, including both reduced and oxidized redox facies, to characterize As and Fe occurrence in unaltered layers and redistributional consequences of the redox event. Geochemical and mineralogical composition and As fractionation were assessed. Arsenic resides in pyrite in the reduced section with a bulk rock maximum concentration of 39 μg g−1, calculated Aspyrite is ∼0.2 wt.%. Siderite concretions in the fine sands do not function as As sinks, neither does glauconite whose general As/Fe leaching behaviour was characterized. In the zone of redox transition, reduced and oxidized phases coexist and elevated As concentrations (up to 73 μg g−1) with high proportions of reactive As were detected. Arsenic behaviour changes from relatively homogeneous Fe sulphide-control in the unaltered sediments to very heterogeneous Fe hydroxide-control above the paleo redox boundary. The studied characteristics determine recent As availability in the subsurface and must be considered during groundwater extraction from this highly important aquifer.
Arsenic , Paleo redox event , Iron minerals , Redistribution , Glauconite
Banning, A., Rüde, T. R. and Dölling, B. (2013) ‘Crossing redox boundaries—Aquifer redox history and effects on iron mineralogy and arsenic availability’, Journal of Hazardous Materials, 262, pp. 905-914. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2012.12.015