Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 214, Issue 1–4, pp 307–320 | Cite as

Arsenic Mining Waste in the Catchment Area of the Madrid Detrital Aquifer (Spain)

  • Lorena Recio-Vazquez
  • Javier Garcia-Guinea
  • Pilar Carral
  • Ana Maria Alvarez
  • Fernando Garrido


In recent years, elevated arsenic concentrations in groundwater used for drinking water supplies have been recognised in the Madrid Tertiary detrital aquifer. Although only natural causes have been suggested as the source of arsenic, this study aims to highlight that the anthropogenic contribution cannot be disregarded. During the sub-catchment’s areas sampling, we found many geographical sites where natural arsenopyrite [FeAsS] originally encapsulated in pegmatite bodies and quartz veins, was artificially outcropped and dumped out, since mining wastes were scattered and exposed to weathering. Several mineral and ground specimens were collected to analyse its mineralogical and chemical composition by X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry and by Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM). Both, the abundant existence of secondary phases, such as scorodite [FeAsO4⋅2H2O] and jarosite [KFe3(SO4)2(OH)6], much more soluble than arsenopyrite, and the lixiviation experiments of arsenopyrite in acidic media to simulate acid mine drainage (AMD) conditions, usually found in old mining districts, point to a potential risk of arsenic contamination of surface water bodies, which operate as recharged waters of the aquifer in the studied area. The elemental determination of heavy metals present in ground samples by XRF analyses, reaching up to 1,173 mg kg–1 of copper, 347 mg kg–1 of lead and 113,702 mg kg–1 of arsenic; and the physicochemical and arsenic fractionation studies of soil samples, led us to classify the soil as Spolic Technosol (Toxic). The contamination of the area due to old mining activities could release arsenic to Madrid water supplies; accordingly, additional decontamination studies should be performed.


Arsenic Arsenopyrite Scorodite Groundwater Mining wastes Soil contamination 



This work was supported in part by the Spanish project C.I.C.Y.T. CGL2009-09247 and the FPI Research Fellowship of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. Thanks are also due to Martin Fernandez-Hernan for his valuable help in the sample collection in the Colmenar Viejo area. We are grateful to Rafael Gonzalez Martin for the XRD and XRF analyses, and to Octavio Cedenilla Martin for the ICP-AES analyses.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorena Recio-Vazquez
    • 1
  • Javier Garcia-Guinea
    • 2
  • Pilar Carral
    • 3
  • Ana Maria Alvarez
    • 3
  • Fernando Garrido
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Ciencias Medioambientales (CSIC)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN)MadridSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Geología y Geoquímica, Facultad CienciasUniv. Autonoma MadridMadridSpain

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