In situ adsorption of mercury, methylmercury and other elements by iron oxyhydroxides and organic matter in lake sediments

Samples of authigenic material, sediment overlying water and oxic surface sediment (0-0.5-cm depth) from a perennially oxygenated lacustrine basin were analysed to investigate which solid phases are important for binding a suite of trace elements (Ag, As, Ca, Cd, Cu, Hg, In, methylmercury (MeHg), Mg, Mo, Pb, Sb and Zn). The authigenic material, which was collected with inert Teflon sheets deployed for several years across the sediment water interface, contained mainly poorly crystallized Fe oxyhydroxides and natural organic matter, presumably humic substances derived from the watershed. Manganese oxyhydroxides were not present in the collected authigenic material due to the slightly acidic condition (pH = 5.6) of the lake that prevents the formation and recycling of these compounds. Conditional equilibrium constants for the adsorption of cationic (KFe-M) and anionic (KFe-A) trace elements onto the authigenic Fe oxyhydroxides were estimated from their concentrations in the authigenic material and in bottom water samples. These field-derived values of KFe-M and KFe-A were compared with those predicted by the surface complexation model, using laboratory-derived intrinsic adsorption constants and the water composition at the study site. Equilibrium constants (KPOM-M) were also calculated for the adsorption of the cationic trace elements onto the humic substances contained in the diagenetic material. The field-derived values of KPOM-M were compared to those predicted by the speciation code WHAM 6 for the complexation of the trace elements by dissolved humic substances in the lake. Combining the results of the present study with those on the distributions of trace elements in the porewater and solid-phase sediments reported in previous studies at the same site, it was determined whether the trace elements bind preferentially to Fe oxyhydroxides or natural organic matter in oxic sediments. The main inferences are that the anionic trace elements As, Mo and Sb, as well as the cationic metal Pb are preferentially bound to the authigenic Fe oxyhydroxides whereas the other trace elements, and especially Hg and MeHg, are preferentially bound to the humic substances. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Feyte Stephane, Tessier Andre, Gobeil Charles, Cossa Daniel (2010). In situ adsorption of mercury, methylmercury and other elements by iron oxyhydroxides and organic matter in lake sediments. Applied Geochemistry. 25 (7). 984-995.,

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