Coprecipitation of phosphate and silicate affects environmental iron (oxyhydr)oxide transformations: A gel-based diffusive sampler approach

Peter Kraal, Case M. van Genuchten, Wytze K. Lenstra, Thilo Behrends

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Sorption of nutrients such as phosphate (P) and silicate (Si) by ferric iron (oxyhydr)oxides (FeOx) modulates nutrient mobility and alters the structure and reactivity of the FeOx. We investigated the impact of these interactions on FeOx transformations using a novel approach with samplers containing synthetic FeOx embedded in diffusive hydrogels. The FeOx were prepared by Fe(III) hydrolysis and Fe(II) oxidation, in the absence and presence of P or Si. Coprecipitation of P or Si during synthesis altered the structure of Fe precipitates and, in the case of Fe(II) oxidation, lepidocrocite was (partly) substituted by poorly ordered FeOx. The pure and P- or Si-bearing FeOx were deployed in (i) freshwater sediment rich in dissolved Fe(II) and P and (ii) marine sediment with sulfidic pore water. Iron(II)-catalyzed crystallization of poorly ordered FeOx was negligible, likely due to surface passivation by adsorption of dissolved P. Reaction with dissolved sulfide was modulated by diffusion limitations and therefore the extent of sulfidation was the lowest for poorly ordered FeOx with high reactivity toward sulfide that created temporary, local sulfide depletion (Fh < Lp). We show that coprecipitation-induced changes in the FeOx structure affect coupled iron-nutrient cycling in aquatic ecosystems. The gel-based method enriches our geochemical toolbox by enabling detailed characterization of target phases under natural conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12795-12802
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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