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Assessment of vanadium distribution in shallow groundwaters

Abstract : Shallow groundwater samples (filtered at 0.2 μm) collected from a catchment in Western France (Petit Hermitage catchment) were analyzed for their major- and trace-element concentrations (Fe, Mn, V, Th and U) as well as their dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations, with the aim to investigate the controlling factors of vanadium (V) distribution. Two spatially distinct water types were previously recognized in this catchment based on variations of the rare earth element (REE) concentrations. These include: (i) DOC-poor groundwater flowing below the hillslope domains; this type has low V contents; and (ii) DOC-rich groundwater originating from wetlands, close to the river network; the latter water type displays much higher V concentrations. The temporal variation of the V concentration was also assessed in the wetland waters; the results show a marked increase in the V content at the winter-spring transition, along with variations in the redox potential, and DOC, Fe and Mn contents. In order to allow the study of organo-colloidal control on V partitioning in water samples, ultrafiltration experiments were performed at different pore size cut-offs (30 kDa, 10 kDa and 5 kDa). Two shallow, circumneutral waters were sampled: one was both DOC- and Fe-rich and the other was DOC-rich and Fe-poor. In terms of major- and trace-cations and DOC concentrations, the data were processed using an ascendant hierarchical classification method. This revealed the presence of two main groups: (i) a "truly" dissolved group (Na, K, Rb, Ca, Mg, Ba, Sr, Si, Mn, Co, Ni, Cr, Zn and Ni), and (ii) a colloidal group carrying DOC, Fe, Al, Pb, Cu, REE, U, Th and V. Vanadium has an unpredictable behavior; it can be either in the organic pool or in the inorganic pool, depending on the sample. Moreover, V speciation calculations--using Model VI and SCAMP--were performed on both samples. Speciation modeling showed approximately the same partitioning feature of these elements as compared to ultrafiltration data, namely: a slight change of the V speciation in groundwaters along the studied topographic sequence. This implies that vanadium in hillslope groundwater wells occurs as a mixing of organic and inorganic complexes, whereas V in wetland groundwater wells comprises mainly organic species. Using the dataset described above, factors such as aquifer-rock composition or anthropogenic input were demonstrated to probably play a minor role in determining the V distribution in shallow groundwaters. Although an anthropogenic impact can be ruled out at this local scale, we cannot preclude a perturbation in the global V cycle. Most likely, the two dominant factors involved are the organic matter content and the redox state either promoting competition with Fe-, Mn-oxides as V carriers in groundwater or not. In this context, it appears challenging to determine whether organic matter or redox-sensitive phases are the major V carriers involved, and a further study should be dedicated to clarify this partition, notably to address the processes affecting large-scale V transport.
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Olivier Pourret, Aline Dia, Gérard Gruau, Mélanie Davranche, Martine Bouhnik-Le Coz. Assessment of vanadium distribution in shallow groundwaters. Chemical Geology, Elsevier, 2012, 294-295, pp.89-102. ⟨10.1016/j.chemgeo.2011.11.033⟩. ⟨insu-00671076⟩

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