High arsenic concentrations and enriched sulfur and oxygen isotopes in a fractured-bedrock ground-water system

Chemical Geology
By: , and 



Ground water with high arsenic concentrations (up to 26.6????mol L- 1) has sulfate enriched in 34S and 18O in the fractured-bedrock, ground-water system of the Kelly's Cove watershed, Northport, Maine, USA. The ranges of sulfur and oxygen isotope values in aqueous sulfate, ??34S[SO4] and ??18O[SO4], at the Kelly's Cove watershed are + 3.4 to + 4.9??? and - 2.0 to + 6.7???, respectively. These isotope values are strikingly similar to those of the Goose River, Maine watershed which has ??34S[SO4] and ??18O[SO4] ranges of + 3.7 to + 4.6 ??? and - 2.6 to + 7.5???, respectively. In both systems, high arsenic concentrations occur with high ??34S[SO4] and ??18O[SO4] values, yet redox conditions and underlying rock types are quite different. The isotope values of sulfide minerals, ??34S[min], from four bedrock cores vary over short distances and range from - 5.1 to + 7.5???. The ??34S[SO4] values are controlled by the ??34S[min] values with minor input of atmospheric SO4. The much narrower range in ??34S[SO4] values than ??34S[min] values is probably due to sufficient ground-water mixing at a scale greater than the ??34S[min] variability. The ??34S[SO4] values are about 2??? higher than the average ??34S[min] value and fall within the range of ??34S[min] values, indicating only minor fractionation due to bacterial reduction of SO4. The highest ??18O[SO4] values were measured in the downgradient, confined, arsenic-rich ground water. High ??18O[SO4] values there cannot be due to aeration by atmospheric oxygen, but may arise from reoxidation of reduced SO4 products. The enrichment factors of ??18O in SO4 compared to H2O, + 7.2 to + 15.5???, in the Kelly's Cove ground water and the negligible 34S enrichment is very similar to those derived from experimental data of anaerobic sulfide oxidation in the presence of Mn and Fe oxides. Sea level at the Kelly's Cove watershed was approximately 80??m above present sea level about 13 000??years before present, imposing reducing conditions on that area of the watershed. Sea level dropped approximately 60??m below present sea level about 11 000??years before present, allowing for possible oxidation of sulfide minerals and precipitation of arsenic in ferric oxyhydroxides during aeration of the ground-water system. Under present redox conditions, there is evidence that bacteria reduction of ferric oxyhydroxides releases arsenic. The fractionation of 18O in the SO4 during anaerobic oxidation of sulfide in the presence of Mn and Fe oxides and subsequent release of arsenic during Mn and Fe oxide reduction may explain the relationship between high arsenic concentrations and elevated 18O[SO4] at Kelly's Cove. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title High arsenic concentrations and enriched sulfur and oxygen isotopes in a fractured-bedrock ground-water system
Series title Chemical Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2007.04.003
Volume 242
Issue 3-4
Year Published 2007
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Chemical Geology
First page 385
Last page 399