, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 775-807
Date: 23 Jun 2011

Arsenic and Antimony in Groundwater Flow Systems: A Comparative Study

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Abstract

Arsenic (As) and antimony (Sb) concentrations and speciation were determined along flow paths in three groundwater flow systems, the Carrizo Sand aquifer in southeastern Texas, the Upper Floridan aquifer in south-central Florida, and the Aquia aquifer of coastal Maryland, and subsequently compared and contrasted. Previously reported hydrogeochemical parameters for all three aquifer were used to demonstrate how changes in oxidation–reduction conditions and solution chemistry along the flow paths in each of the aquifers affected the concentrations of As and Sb. Total Sb concentrations (SbT) of groundwaters from the Carrizo Sand aquifer range from 16 to 198 pmol kg−1; in the Upper Floridan aquifer, SbT concentrations range from 8.1 to 1,462 pmol kg−1; and for the Aquia aquifer, SbT concentrations range between 23 and 512 pmol kg−1. In each aquifer, As and Sb (except for the Carrizo Sand aquifer) concentrations are highest in the regions where Fe(III) reduction predominates and lower where SO4 reduction buffers redox conditions. Groundwater data and sequential analysis of the aquifer sediments indicate that reductive dissolution of Fe(III) oxides/oxyhydroxides and subsequent release of sorbed As and Sb are the principal mechanism by which these metalloids are mobilized. Increases in pH along the flow path in the Carrizo Sand and Aquia aquifer also likely promote desorption of As and Sb from mineral surfaces, whereas pyrite oxidation mobilizes As and Sb within oxic groundwaters from the recharge zone of the Upper Floridan aquifer. Both metalloids are subsequently removed from solution by readsorption and/or coprecipitation onto Fe(III) oxides/oxyhydroxides and mixed Fe(II)/Fe(III) oxides, clay minerals, and pyrite. Speciation modeling using measured and computed Eh values predicts that Sb(III) predominate in Carrizo Sand and Upper Floridan aquifer groundwaters, occurring as the Sb(OH) 3 0 species in solution. In oxic groundwaters from the recharge zones of these aquifers, the speciation model suggests that Sb(V) occurs as the negatively charged Sb(OH) 6 species, whereas in sufidic groundwaters from both aquifers, the thioantimonite species, HSb2S4 and Sb2S4 2−, are predicted to be important dissolved forms of Sb. The measured As and Sb speciation in the Aquia aquifer indicates that As(III) and Sb(III) predominate. Comparison of the speciation model results based on measured Eh values, and those computed with the Fe(II)/Fe(III), S(-II)/SO4, As(III)/As(V), and Sb(III)/Sb(V) couples, to the analytically determined As and Sb speciation suggests that the Fe(II)/Fe(III), S(-II)/SO4 couples exert more control on the in situ redox condition of these groundwaters than either metalloid redox couple.