Main content area

A comparison of the low frequency electrical signatures of iron oxide versus calcite precipitation in granular zero valent iron columns

Wu, Yuxin, Slater, Lee, Versteeg, Roelof, LaBrecque, Douglas
Journal of contaminant hydrology 2008 v.95 no.3-4 pp. 154-167
groundwater contamination, remediation, iron oxides, calcite, chemical precipitation, iron, sodium sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, electrical conductivity
Geophysical methods have been proposed as technologies for non-invasively monitoring geochemical alteration in permeable reactive barriers (PRBs). We conducted column experiments to investigate the effect of mineralogy on the electrical signatures resulting from iron corrosion and mineral precipitation in Fe⁰ columns using (a) Na₂SO₄, and (b) NaHCO₃ plus CaCl₂ mixture, solutions. At the influent interface where the reactions were most severe, a contrasting time-lapse electrical response was observed between the two columns. Solid phase analysis confirmed the formation of corrosion halos and increased mineralogical complexity in the corroded sections of the columns compared to the minimal/non-corroded sections. We attribute the contrasting time-lapse signatures to the differences in the electrical properties of the mineral phases formed within the two columns. While newly precipitated/transformed polarizable and semi-conductive iron oxides (mostly magnetite and green rust) increase the polarization and conductivity of the sulfate column, the decrease of both parameters in the bicarbonate column is attributed to the precipitation of non-polarizable and non-conductive calcite. Our results show that precipitate mineralogy is an important factor influencing the electrical properties of the corroded iron cores and must be considered if electrical geophysical methods are to be developed to monitor PRB barrier corrosion processes in situ.