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Reactivity of As and U co-occurring in mine wastes in northeastern Arizona

July 19, 2019

The reactivity of co-occurring arsenic (As) and uranium (U) in mine wastes was investigated using batch reactors, microscopy, spectroscopy, and aqueous chemistry. Analyses of field samples collected in proximity to mine wastes in northeastern Arizona confirm the presence of As and U in soils and surrounding waters, as reported in a previous study from our research group. In this study, we measured As (<0.500 to 7.77 μg/L) and U (0.950 to 165 μg/L) in waters, as well as mine wastes (<20.0 to 40.0 mg/kg As and <60.0 to 110 mg/kg U) and background solids (<20.0 mg/kg As and <60.0 mg/kg U). Analysis with X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and electron microprobe show the co-occurrence of As and U with iron (Fe) and vanadium (V). These field conditions served as a foundation for additional laboratory experiments to assess the reactivity of metals in these mine wastes. Results from laboratory experiments indicate that labile and exchangeable As(V) was released to solution when solids were sequentially reacted with water and magnesium chloride (MgCl2), while limited U was released to solution with the same reactants. The predominance of As(V) in mine waste solids was confirmed by X-ray absorption near edge (XANES) analysis. Both As and U were released to solution after reaction of solids in batch experiments with HCO3. Both X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and XANES analysis determined the predominance of Fe(III) in the solids. Mössbauer spectroscopy detected the presence of nano-crystalline goethite, Fe(II) and Fe(III) in (phyllo)silicates, and an unidentified mineral with parameters consistent with arsenopyrite or jarosite in the mine waste solids. Our results suggest that As and U can be released under environmentally relevant conditions in mine waste, which is applicable to risk and exposure assessment.

Publication Year 2019
Title Reactivity of As and U co-occurring in mine wastes in northeastern Arizona
DOI 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2019.05.024
Authors Johanna Blake, Sumant Avasarala, Abdul-Mehdi Ali, Michael Spilde, Juan S Lezama-Pacheco, Drew Latta, Kateryna Artyushkova, Anastasia G Ilgen, Christopher Shuey, Christopher Nez, Jose M Cerrato
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Chemical Geology
Index ID 70204355
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New Mexico Water Science Center