Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thioarsenate formation upon dissolution of orpiment and arsenopyrite.

Chemosphere. 2012 Nov;89(11):1390-8. 
Suess E, Planer-Friedrich B. 
University of Bayreuth, Environmental Geochemistry, Universitaetsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany. 
Abstract - Thioarsenates were previously determined as dominant species in geothermal and mineral waters with excess sulfide. Here, we used batch leaching experiments to determine their formation upon weathering or industrial leaching of the arsenic-sulfide minerals orpiment (As(2)S(3)) and arsenopyrite (FeAsS) under different pH and oxygen conditions. Under acidic conditions, as expected based on their known kinetic instability at low pH, no thioarsenates formed in either of the two mineral systems. Under neutral to alkaline conditions, orpiment dissolution yielded mono-, di- and trithioarsenate which accounted for up to 43-55% of total arsenic. Thioarsenate formation upon arsenopyrite dissolution was low at neutral (4%) but significant at alkaline pH, especially under suboxic to sulfidic conditions (20-43%, mainly as monothioarsenate). In contrast to orpiment, we postulate that recombination of arsenite and sulfide in solution is of minor importance for monothioarsenate formation during alkaline arsenopyrite dissolution. We propose instead that hydroxyl physisorption lead to formation of As-OH-S surface complexes by transposition of hydroxyl anions to arsenic or iron sites. Concurrently formed ironhydroxides could provide re-sorption sites for the freshly released monothioarsenate. However, sorption experiments with goethite showed slower sorption kinetics of monothioarsenate compared to arsenite, but comparable with arsenate. The discovery that thioarsenates are released by natural weathering and industrial leaching processes and that, once they are released, have a higher mobility than the commonly-investigated species arsenite and arsenate requires future studies to consider them when assessing arsenic release in sulfidic natural or mining-impacted environments.

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