Direct visualization of arsenic binding on green rust sulfate

Jeffrey Paulo H. Perez, Helen M. Freeman, Andy P. Brown, Case M. van Genuchten, Knud Dideriksen, Mark S'Ari, Dominique J. Tobler, Liane G. Benning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


"Green rust" (GR), a redox-active Fe(II)-Fe(III) layered double hydroxide, is a potential environmentally relevant mineral substrate for arsenic (As) sequestration in reduced, subsurface environments. GR phases have high As uptake capacities at circum-neutral pH conditions, but the exact interaction mechanism between the GR phases and As species is still poorly understood. Here, we documented the bonding and interaction mechanisms between GR sulfate and As species [As(III) and As(V)] under anoxic and circum-neutral pH conditions through scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy and combined it with synchrotron-based X-ray total scattering, pair distribution function (PDF) analysis, and As K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Our highly spatially resolved STEM-EDX data revealed that the preferred adsorption sites of both As(III) and As(V) are at GR crystal edges. Combining this data with differential PDF and XAS allowed us to conclude that As adsorption occurs primarily as bidentate binuclear (2C) inner-sphere surface complexes. In the As(III)-reacted GR sulfate, no secondary Fe-As phases were observed. However, authigenic parasymplesite (ferrous arsenate nanophase), exhibiting a threadlike morphology, formed in the As(V)-reacted GR sulfate and acts as an additional immobilization pathway for As(V) (∼87% of immobilized As). We demonstrate that only by combining high-resolution STEM imaging and EDX mapping with the bulk (differential) PDF and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) data can one truly determine the de facto As binding nature on GR surfaces. More importantly, these new insights into As-GR interaction mechanisms highlight the impact of GR phases on As sequestration in anoxic subsurface environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3297-3305
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2020

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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