Determining the chemical speciation of mercury in contaminated mining and industrial environments is essential for predicting its solubility, transport behavior, and potential bioavailability as well as for designing effective remediation strategies. In this study, two techniques for determining Hg speciation-X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) spectroscopy and sequential chemical extractions (SCE)-are independently applied to a set of samples with Hg concentrations ranging from 132 to 7539 mg/kg to determine if the two techniques provide comparable Hg speciation results. Generally, the proportions of insoluble HgS (cinnabar, metacinnabar) and HgSe identified by XAFS correlate well with the proportion of Hg removed in the aqua regia extraction demonstrated to remove HgS and HgSe. Statistically significant (> 10%) differences are observed however in samples containing more soluble Hg-containing phases (HgCl2, HgO, Hg3S2O 4). Such differences may be related to matrix, particle size, or crystallinity effects, which could affect the apparent solubility of Hg phases present. In more highly concentrated samples, microscopy techniques can help characterize the Hg-bearing species in complex multiphase natural samples.
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Mercury Speciation by X-ray Absorption Fine Structure Spectroscopy and Sequential Chemical Extractions: A Comparison of Speciation Methods