The effect of simultaneous competitive speciation of dissolved rare earth elements (REEs) in acidic waters (pH 3.3 to 5.2) has been evaluated by applying the PHREEQE code to the speciation of water analyses from Spain, Brazil, USA, and Canada. The main ions that might affect REE are Al3+, F-, SO42-, and PO43-. Fluoride, normally a significant complexer of REEs, is strongly associated with Al3+ in acid waters and consequently has little influence on REEs. The inclusion of aluminum concentrations in speciation calculations for acidic waters is essential for reliable speciation of REEs. Phosphate concentrations are too low (10-4 to 10-7 m) to affect REE speciation. Consequently, SO42- is the only important complexing ligand for REEs under these conditions. According to Millero [Millero, F.J., 1992. Stability constants for the formation of rare earth inorganic complexes as a function of ionic strength. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 56, 3123-3132], the lanthanide sulfate stability constants are nearly constant with increasing atomic number so that no REE fractionation would be anticipated from aqueous complexation in acidic waters. Hence, REE enrichments or depletions must arise from mass transfer reactions. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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REE speciation in low-temperature acidic waters and the competitive effects of aluminum