Sulfide-driven arsenic mobilization from arsenopyrite and black shale pyrite

Wenyi Zhu, Lily Y. Young, Nathan Yee, Michael Serfes, E. Danielle Rhine, John R. Reinfelder

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47 Scopus citations


We examined the hypothesis that sulfide drives arsenic mobilization from pyritic black shale by a sulfide-arsenide exchange and oxidation reaction in which sulfide replaces arsenic in arsenopyrite forming pyrite, and arsenide (As-1) is concurrently oxidized to soluble arsenite (As+3). This hypothesis was tested in a series of sulfide-arsenide exchange experiments with arsenopyrite (FeAsS), homogenized black shale from the Newark Basin (Lockatong formation), and pyrite isolated from Newark Basin black shale incubated under oxic (21% O2), hypoxic (2% O2, 98% N2), and anoxic (5% H2, 95% N2) conditions. The oxidation state of arsenic in Newark Basin black shale pyrite was determined using X-ray absorption-near edge structure spectroscopy (XANES). Incubation results show that sulfide (1 mM initial concentration) increases arsenic mobilization to the dissolved phase from all three solids under oxic and hypoxic, but not anoxic conditions. Indeed under oxic and hypoxic conditions, the presence of sulfide resulted in the mobilization in 48 h of 13-16 times more arsenic from arsenopyrite and 6-11 times more arsenic from isolated black shale pyrite than in sulfide-free controls. XANES results show that arsenic in Newark Basin black shale pyrite has the same oxidation state as that in FeAsS (-1) and thus extend the sulfide-arsenide exchange mechanism of arsenic mobilization to sedimentary rock, black shale pyrite. Biologically active incubations of whole black shale and its resident microorganisms under sulfate reducing conditions resulted in sevenfold higher mobilization of soluble arsenic than sterile controls. Taken together, our results indicate that sulfide-driven arsenic mobilization would be most important under conditions of redox disequilibrium, such as when sulfate-reducing bacteria release sulfide into oxic groundwater, and that microbial sulfide production is expected to enhance arsenic mobilization in sedimentary rock aquifers with major pyrite-bearing, black shale formations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5243-5250
Number of pages8
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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