Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 73, Issue 8, pp 4689–4700 | Cite as

Increasing arsenic mobility in the fine fraction of the dry stream sediments of the semi-arid San Antonio gold mining district (Baja California peninsula, Mexico)

  • Evgueni Shumilin
  • Nicolai Mirlean
  • Konstantin Choumiline
  • Mikhail Ostrooumov
Original Article


The geochemical mobility of arsenic and some metals in the fine fraction of 20 alluvial sediment samples collected along the thalweg of the San Antonio arroyo was assessed in the abandoned gold mining district of the semi-arid southeastern Baja California peninsula. Acid-digested element concentrations were determined by treating the fine fraction of the sediments with concentrated HNO3 via microwave heating. A separate leaching of the diluted acid-soluble As and some metals from the samples was carried out using 1 M HCl. The most reactive As phase was extracted from the subsamples using an ascorbic solution of Na citrate buffered at pH 8. The high abundance of sulphosalts (tennantite Cu12As4S13 and proustite Ag3AsS3) in the sediments from the head of the arroyo changes downstream to the predominance of arsenic trioxide (arsenolite As2O3) and arsenate (scorodite FeAsO4·2H2O). Acid-digested As concentrations were always found to be high (230–270 mg kg−1) from the San Antonio village until the end of the arroyo. The concentration of reactive As and its relative contribution increased from low values of 2.3 mg kg−1 and 1 %, respectively, at the upstream of the arroyo, to 191–220 mg kg−1 and 75–89 % in the middle and lower parts, and is probably a result of As release from the mineral sulfide fraction of the tailings. Metallic contaminants exhibited different behavior, with a peak of acid-digested and diluted acid-leached concentrations observed in the central part of the arroyo and an almost permanent geochemical mobility.


Arsenic Geochemical mobility Thalweg sediments Gold mining Leachable fractions Semi-arid climate 



The authors are thankful to the technical personnel of the Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas-Instituto Politécnico Nacional of Mexico for their assistance provided during sampling. This study was partly supported by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evgueni Shumilin
    • 1
  • Nicolai Mirlean
    • 2
  • Konstantin Choumiline
    • 3
  • Mikhail Ostrooumov
    • 4
  1. 1.Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias MarinasLa PazMexico
  2. 2.Oceanography Geological Laboratory, Oceanography InstituteFederal University of Rio GrandeRio GrandeBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of California RiversideRiversideUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Earth SciencesUniversity of MichoacánMoreliaMexico

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