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The behavior of rare earth elements in naturally and anthropogenically acidified waters

July 1, 2006

In this paper, the behavior of rare earth elements (REE) in a watershed impacted by acid-mine drainage (Fisher Creek, Montana) is compared to that in a volcanically acidified watershed (Rio Agrio and Lake Caviahue, Argentina). The REE behave conservatively in acidic waters with pH values less than approximately 5.5. However, above pH 5.5, REE concentrations are controlled by adsorption onto or co-precipitation with a variety of Fe or Al oxyhydroxides. The heavy REE partition to a greater extent into the solid phase than the light REE as pH rises above 6. Concentrations of REE exhibit diel (24-h) cycling in waters that were initially acidic, but have become neutralized downstream. In Fisher Creek, at the most downstream sampling station investigated (pH 6.8), concentrations of dissolved REE were 190–840% higher in the early morning versus the late afternoon. This cycling can be related to temperature-dependent, cyclic adsorption–desorption of REE onto hydrous ferric or aluminum oxide or both. Similar but gentler diel cycling of the REE was found at Rio Agrio. The existence of such cycling has important ramifications for the study of REE in natural waters.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2006
Title The behavior of rare earth elements in naturally and anthropogenically acidified waters
DOI 10.1016/j.jallcom.2005.07.082
Authors Scott A. Wood, Christopher H. Gammons, Stephen R. Parker
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Alloys and Compounds
Series Number
Index ID 70184351
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program