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Fast Photomineralization of Dissolved Organic Matter in Acid Mine Drainage Impacted Waters

Yuan, Chenyi, Sleighter, Rachel L., Weavers, Linda K., Hatcher, Patrick G., Chin, Yu-Ping
Environmental science & technology 2019 v.53 no.11 pp. 6273-6281
acid mine drainage, aquatic ecosystems, carbon cycle, dissolved organic matter, dissolved oxygen, forested watersheds, gel chromatography, hydroxyl radicals, iron, mass spectrometry, mineralization, oxygen, pH, photolysis, pyrite, solar radiation, summer, weathering, Ohio
Acid mine drainage (AMD) formed from pyrite (iron disulfide) weathering contributes to ecosystem degradation in impacted waters. Solar irradiation has been shown to be an important factor in the biogeochemical cycling of iron in AMD-impacted waters, but its impact on dissolved organic matter (DOM) is unknown. With a typical AMD-impacted water (pH 2.7–3) collected from the Perry State Forest watershed in Ohio, we observed highly efficient (>80%) photochemical mineralization of DOM within hours in a solar simulator resembling twice summer sunlight at 40°N. We confirmed that the mineralization was initially induced by •OH formed from FeOH²⁺ photodissociation and was inhibited 2-fold by dissolved oxygen removal, suggesting the importance of both the photochemical reaction and oxygen involvement. Size exclusion chromatography and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry elucidated that any remaining organic matter was comprised of smaller and highly aliphatic compounds. The quantitative and qualitative changes in DOM are likely to constitute an important component in regional carbon cycling and nutrient release and to influence downstream aquatic ecosystems in AMD-affected watersheds.