Ferrous iron rapidly oxidizes to Fe (III) and precipitates as hydrous Fe (III) oxides in acid mine waters. This study examines the effect of Fe precipitation on the rare earth element (REE) geochemistry of acid mine waters to determine the pH range over which REEs behave conservatively and the range over which attenuation and fractionation occur. Two field studies were designed to investigate REE attenuation during Fe oxidation in acidic, alpine surface waters. To complement these field studies, a suite of six acid mine waters with a pH range from 1.6 to 6.1 were collected and allowed to oxidize in the laboratory at ambient conditions to determine the partitioning of REEs during Fe oxidation and precipitation. Results from field experiments document that even with substantial Fe oxidation, the REEs remain dissolved in acid, sulfate waters with pH below 5.1. Between pH 5.1 and 6.6 the REEs partitioned to the solid phases in the water column, and heavy REEs were preferentially removed compared to light REEs. Laboratory experiments corroborated field data with the most solid-phase partitioning occurring in the waters with the highest pH. ?? 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Rare earth element partitioning between hydrous ferric oxides and acid mine water during iron oxidation