A gel probe equilibrium sampler has been developed to study arsenic (As) geochemistry and sorption behavior in sediment porewater. The gels consist of a hydrated polyacrylamide polymer, which has a 92% water content. Two types of gels were used in this study. Undoped (clear) gels were used to measure concentrations of As and other elements in sediment porewater. The polyacrylamide gel was also doped with hydrous ferric oxide (HFO), an amorphous iron (Fe) oxyhydroxide. When deployed in the field, HFO-doped gels introduce a fresh sorbent into the subsurface thus allowing assessment of in situ sorption. In this study, clear and HFO-doped gels were tested under laboratory conditions to constrain the gel behavior prior to field deployment. Both types of gels were allowed to equilibrate with solutions of varying composition and re-equilibrated in acid for analysis. Clear gels accurately measured solution concentrations (±1%), and As was completely recovered from HFO-doped gels (±4%). Arsenic speciation was determined in clear gels through chromatographic separation of the re-equilibrated solution. For comparison to speciation in solution, mixtures of As(III) and As(V) adsorbed on HFO embedded in gel were measured in situ using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Sorption densities for As(III) and As(V) on HFO embedded in gel were obtained from sorption isotherms at pH 7.1. When As and phosphate were simultaneously equilibrated (in up to 50-fold excess of As) with HFO-doped gels, phosphate inhibited As sorption by up to 85% and had a stronger inhibitory effect on As(V) than As(III). Natural organic matter (>200 ppm) decreased As adsorption by up to 50%, and had similar effects on As(V) and As(III). The laboratory results provide a basis for interpreting results obtained by deploying the gel probe in the field and elucidating the mechanisms controlling As partitioning between solid and dissolved phases in the environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry