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Fate of arsenic-bearing phases during the suspended transport in a gold mining district (Isle river Basin, France)

Abstract : Arsenic-rich (~ 140-1520 mg.kg− 1) suspended particulate matter (SPM) was collected daily with an automatic sampler in the Upper Isle River (France) draining a former gold mining district in order to better understand the fate of arsenic during the suspended transport (particles smaller than 50 μm). Various techniques at a micrometric scale (EPMA, quantitative SEM-EDS with an automated particle counting including classification system and μXRD) were used to directly characterize As-bearing phases. The most frequent ones were aggregates of fine clay particles. Their mineralogy varied with particle sources involved. These aggregates were formed by chlorite-phlogopite-kaolinite assemblages during the high flow and chlorite-illite-montmorillonite during the low flow. Among all the observed As-carriers in SPM, these clay assemblages were the least As-rich (0.10 up to 1.58 wt.% As) and their median As concentrations suggested that they were less concentrated during the high flow than during the low flow. Iron oxyhydroxides were evidenced by μXRD in these clay aggregates, either as micro- to nano-sized particles and/or as coating. (Mn, Fe)oxyhydroxides were also present as discrete particles. Manganese oxides (0.14-1.26 wt.% As) transport significantly more arsenic during the low flow than during the high flow (0.16-0.79 wt.% As). The occurrence of Fe oxyhydroxide particles appeared more complex. During the low flow, observations on banks and in wetlands of freshly precipitated Fe hydroxides (ferrihydrite-type) presented the highest As concentrations (up to 6.5 wt.% As) but they were barely detected in SPM at a microscale. During the high flow, As-rich Fe-oxyhydroxides (0.10-2.80 wt.% As) were more frequent, reflecting mechanical erosion and transport when the surface water level increased. Arsenic transfers from SPM to corresponding aqueous fraction mostly depend on As-carrier stability. This study shows the temporal occurrence of each type of As-bearing phases in SPM, their As concentrations at a particle scale and abundance according to hydrological periods.
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Cécile Grosbois, Alexandra Courtin-Nomade, E. Robin, Hubert Bril, Nobumichi Tamura, et al.. Fate of arsenic-bearing phases during the suspended transport in a gold mining district (Isle river Basin, France). Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2011, 409 (23), pp.4986-4999. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.07.045⟩. ⟨insu-00624624⟩

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