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Simultaneous leaching of arsenite, arsenate, selenite and selenate, and their migration in tunnel-excavated sedimentary rocks: I. Column experiments under intermittent and unsaturated flow

Tabelin, Carlito Baltazar, Sasaki, Ryosuke, Igarashi, Toshifumi, Park, Ilhwan, Tamoto, Shuichi, Arima, Takahiko, Ito, Mayumi, Hiroyoshi, Naoki
Chemosphere 2017 v.186 pp. 558-569
arsenates, arsenic, arsenites, basins, effluents, ions, leachates, leaching, pH, prediction, railroads, roads, sedimentary rocks, selenates, selenites, selenium, unsaturated flow, Japan
Rocks excavated in tunnel construction projects for roads and railways throughout Japan often leached out hazardous trace elements like arsenic (As) and selenium (Se) upon their exposure to the environment. In nature, the various oxyanionic species of As and Se not only coexist but also exhibit contrasting adsorption-desorption behaviors, so speciation is a crucial factor in their migration through natural geologic media. In this study, the leaching and transport of arsenite (Asᴵᴵᴵ), arsenate (Asⱽ), selenite (Seᴵⱽ) and selenate (Seⱽᴵ) in four tunnel-excavated rocks from the Cretaceous-Paleocene Yezo forearc basin were investigated using laboratory column experiments supplemented by batch leaching experiments. The single- and consecutive-batch leaching results revealed that Asᴵᴵᴵ, Asⱽ, Seᴵⱽ and Seⱽᴵ were released simultaneously, which could be attributed to the rapid dissolution of trace evaporite salts found in the rocks. Arsenic in the leachates was also predominated by Asⱽ while Seᴵⱽ and Seⱽᴵ concentrations were nearly equal, which are both consistent with predictions of equilibrium Eh-pH diagrams. Under intermittent and unsaturated flow, however, periods when Asᴵᴵᴵ and Seⱽᴵ predominated in the effluents were observed. Spatial distributions of As and Se species with depth at the end of the column experiments suggest that migrations of Asᴵᴵᴵ, Asⱽ and Seᴵⱽ were delayed, the extent of which depended on the rock. These results indicate that migration and speciation of As and Se in the rocks are controlled by preferential adsorption-desorption reactions, the effects of which were most probably magnified by changes in the pH and concentrations of coexisting ions due to intermittent and unsaturated flow.