Regulation of Arsenic Mobility on Basaltic Glass Surfaces by Speciation and pH

Bergur Sigfusson, Andrew A. Meharg, Sigurdur R. Gislason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


The importance of geothermal energy as a source for electricity generation and district heating has increased over recent decades. Arsenic can be a significant constituent of the geothermal fluids pumped to the surface during power generation. Dissolved As exists in different oxidation states, mainly as As(III) and As(V), and the charge of individual species varies with pH. Basaltic glass is one of the most important rock types in many high-temperature geothermal fields. Static batch and dynamic column experiments were combined to generate and validate sorption coefficients for As(III) and As(V) in contact with basaltic glass at pH 3-10. Validation was carried out by two empirical kinetic models and a surface complexation model (SCM). The SCM provided a better fit to the experimental column data than kinetic models at high pH values. However, in certain circumstances, an adequate estimation of As transport in the column could not be attained without incorporation of kinetic reactions. The varying mobility with pH was due to the combined effects of the variable charge of the basaltic glass with the pH point of zero charge at 6.8 and the individual As species as pH shifted, respectively. The mobility of As(III) decreased with increasing pH. The opposite was true for As(V), being nearly immobile at pH 3 to being highly mobile at pH 10. Incorporation of appropriate sorption constants, based on the measured pH and Eh of geothermal fluids, into regional groundwater-flow models should allow prediction of the As(III) and As(V) transport from geothermal systems to adjacent drinking water sources and ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8816-8821
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number23
Early online date30 Oct 2008
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


  • predictive model ETLM
  • oxide-water interface
  • dissolution rates
  • natural-waters
  • adsorption
  • consistent
  • Iceland
  • consequences
  • 25-degrees-C
  • stability


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