Acidic (pH 4) seeps issue from the weathered Upper Cretaceous-Paleocene marine sedimentary shales of the Moreno Formation in the semi-arid Coast Ranges of California. The chemistry of the acidic solutions is believed to be evidence of current reactions ultimately yielding hydrous sodium and magnesium sulfate salts, e.g. mirabilite and bloedite, from the oxidation of primary pyrite. The selenate form of Se is concentrated in these soluble salts, which act as temporary geological sinks. Theoretically, the open lattice structures of these hydrous minerals could incorporate the selenate (SeO4-2) anion in the sulfate (SO4-2) space. When coupled with a semi-arid to arid climate, fractional crystallization and evaporative concentration can occur creating a sodium-sulfate fluid that exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limit of 1000 ??g l-1 for a toxic Se waste. The oxidative alkaline conditions necessary to ensure the concentration of soluble selenate are provided in the accompanying marine sandstones of the Panoche and Lodo Formations and the eugeosynclinal Franciscan assemblage. Runoff and extensive mass wasting in the area reflect these processes and provide the mechanisms which transport Se to the farmlands of the west-central San Joaquin Valley. Subsurface drainage from these soils consequently transports Se to refuge areas in amounts elevated to cause a threat to wildlife. ?? 1990.
Additional publication details
Geochemical evidence for Se mobilization by the weathering of pyritic shale, San Joaquin Valley, California, U.S.A.