Sampling Methods to Determine the Spatial Gradients and Flux of Arsenic at a Groundwater Seepage Zone

Ping Gan, Ran Yu, Barth F. Smets, Allison A. MacKay

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Abstract—Sampling techniques with centimeter-scale spatial resolution were applied to investigate biogeochemical processes controlling groundwater arsenic fate across the groundwater–surface water interface at a site characterized by fine sediments (40% sand, 46% silt, 14% clay). Freeze-core sediment collection gave more detailed and depth-accurate arsenic and iron contaminant and microbial distributions than could be obtained with the use of a hand auger. Selective chemical extractions indicated that greater than 90% of the arsenic was strongly sorbed to very amorphous iron oxyhydroxides. These solids accounted for more than 80% of the total iron in the sediments. Microbial enrichments indicated that iron-oxidizing bacteria (IOB) were up to 1% of the total bacterial abundance, whereas iron-reducing bacteria (IRB) were about two orders of magnitude less abundant than IOB. The abundance of IRB mirrored the IOB depth profile. Push-point pore-water sampling captured large amounts of sediment fines, even with controlled (20 ml/min) water withdrawal, thereby necessitating filtration before water quality analysis. Bead columns containing glass media enabled short-term (29 d) characterization of pore water–to–sediment transfer of arsenic and iron. Bead columns indicated quantitative capture of groundwater arsenic and iron during 2003, suggesting that freeze-core inventories corresponded to 2 to 20 years of accumulation, depending on location.
Keyword: Sediment pore water,Arsenic,Hyporheos,Landfill,Groundwater
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1487-1495
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

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