Solid-Phase Speciation of Arsenic As the Primary Control on Dissolved As Concentrations in a Glacial Aquifer System: Quantifying Speciation of Arsenic in Glacial Aquifer Solids with μXAS Mapping.
Abstract:Western Minnesota, USA, is a regional locus of drinking-water wells with high arsenic (As) (As>10µgL-1). Arsenic concentrations vary widely among neighboring wells with otherwise similar water chemistry [1,2]. As(III) should be the most mobile As species in Minnesota well waters (median Eh in As affected wells is -50mV). This As is geogenic, sourced from glacial deposits derived from Cretaceous sedimentary bedrock (dolostone, limestone, shale). Our hypothesis is that As speciation in the solid phase is the important factor controlling the introduction of As to groundwater—more significant in this region than absolute As concentrations or landscape variability.
Our previous research used micro-X-ray absorption spectroscopy (µXAS) speciation mapping  on archived glacial tills (stored dry at room temperature in air). µXAS results from this material showed that As in a reduced chemical state within the till aquitard is spatially correlated with iron sulfide at the micron scale. Conversley, As in aquifer sediments was mainly oxidized As(V). At the aquifer-aquitard contact As was observed as a mixture of both reduced and oxidized forms. This suggests that the aquifer-aquitard contact is a geochemically active zone in which reduced As species present within glacial till are converted to As(V) through complex redox processes, and subsequently release into aquifer sediments.
Our current research applies the same methods to describe As speciation in samples collected from fresh cores of glacial sediment and frozen under argon in the field. Preliminary results are similar to our previous work in that As is, in general, more reduced in aquitard sediments, and more oxidized at the contact and in aquifer sediments. Arsenic(III) was preserved as a minor consitutent in ambient archived cores but is a more significant constituent in fresh, anaerobically preserved cores. Results will be presented comparing anaerobic samples with ambient-air aliquots of the same sample to document changes in the relative abundance of As species depending on sample preservation.
This work was supported by LBNL-ALS, ANL-APS, USGS-MNWSC, MGS, and CURA. Berndt & Soule (1999) Minnesota Arsenic Research Study: Report on Geochemistry.  Erickson & Barnes (2005) Water Research 39 4029-4039.  Toner et al. (2014) Env. Chem. 11 4-9.