Chemical and structural characterization of As immobilization by nanoparticles of mackinawite (FeSm)

Devon Renock, Tanya Gallegos, Satoshi Utsunomiya, Kim Hayes, Rodney C. Ewing, Udo Becker

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57 Citations (Scopus)


The mobility and availability of arsenite, As(III), in anoxic environments is largely controlled by adsorption onto iron sulfides and/or precipitation of arsenic in solid phases. The interaction of As(III) with synthetic mackinawite (FeSm) in pH 5 and 9 suspensions was investigated using high-angle annular dark field (HAADF) scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), STEM elemental mapping, high resolution TEM, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). At pH 5, arsenic sulfide phases precipitate among the FeSm particles as discrete particles that are an amorphous hydrous phase of arsenic sulfide. The oxidation state of As in the surface layers of the arsenic sulfide precipitates is 'realgar-like' based on XPS results showing that > 75% of the As 3d peak area is due to As with oxidation states between 0 and 2+. Discrete, arsenic sulfide precipitates are absent at pH 9, but elemental mapping in STEM-EDX mode shows that arsenic is uniformly distributed on the FeSm, suggesting that uptake is caused by the sorption of As(III) oxyanions and/or the precipitation of highly dispersed arsenic sulfides on FeSm. XPS also revealed that the FeSm that equilibrated without As(III) has a more oxidized surface composition than the sample at pH 9, as indicated by the higher concentration of O (∼ three times greater than that at pH 9) and the larger fraction of Fe(III) species making up the total Fe (2p3/2) peak. These findings provide a better understanding of redox processes and phase transitions upon As(III) adsorption on iron sulfide substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-125
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 20 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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