Geochemical controls on sediment reactivity and buffering processes in a heterogeneous aquifer

Carlos Descourvieres, Niels Hartog, Bradley Patterson, Carolyn Oldham, Henning Prommer

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    50 Citations (Scopus)


    The injection and recovery of oxic water into deep anoxic aquifers may help to alleviate short- and long-term imbalance between freshwater supply and demand. The extent and structure of physical and geochemical heterogeneity of the aquifer will impact the water quality evolution during injection, storage and recovery. Water-sediment interactions within the most permeable parts of the aquifer, where the bulk of the injectant will penetrate, may dominate, however, water quality may also be impacted by interactions within the finer-grained, less permeable but potentially highly reactive media. In this study, the heterogeneity of the reductive capacity of an aquifer selected for water reuse projects was characterised, the amount, type and reactivity of the sedimentary reductants present determined, and the relationship between reductive capacity and sedimentary lithologies quantified. The average potential reductive capacities (PRCTOT), based on total organic C and pyrite concentrations of the sediment, were quantified for sands (382 μmol O2 g-1), clays (1522 μmol O2 g-1), and silts (1957 μmol O2 g-1). Twenty-seven samples, spanning the three different lithologies, were then incubated for 50 days and the measured reductive capacities (MRC) determined for the sands (29.2 μmol O2 g-1), silts (136 μmol O2 g-1), and clays (143 μmol O2 g-1). On average, the MRC were 10% of the PRCTOT. The main consumers of O2 were pyrite (20-100%), sedimentary organic matter (SOM; 3-56%), siderite (3-28%) and Fe(II)-aluminosilicates (8-55%). The incubation data plus hydrogeochemical modelling, indicated that pH-buffering was controlled firstly by dissolution of trace level carbonates, followed by dissolution of feldspars. Zinc, Co, Ni, Cd and Pb were readily mobilized during incubation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)261-275
    Number of pages15
    JournalApplied Geochemistry
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


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