Arsenic in groundwater of the Red River floodplain, Vietnam: Controlling geochemical processes and reactive transport modeling
The mobilization of arsenic (As) to the groundwater was studied in a shallow Holocene aquifer on the Red River flood plain near Hanoi, Vietnam. The groundwater chemistry was investigated in a transect of 100 piezometers. Results show an anoxic aquifer featuring organic carbon decomposition with redox zonation dominated by the reduction of Fe-oxides and methanogenesis. Enhanced PCO2 pressure causes carbonate dissolution to take place but mainly in the soil and unsaturated zone. The concentration of As increases over depth to a concentration of up to 550 μg/L. Most As is present as As(III) but some As(V) is always found. Arsenic correlates well with NH4, relating its release to organic matter decomposition and the source of As appears to be the Fe-oxides being reduced. Part of the produced Fe(II) is apparently reprecipitated as siderite containing less As. Results from sediment extraction indicate most As to be related to the Fe-oxide fractions. The measured amount of sorbed As is low. In agreement, speciation calculations for a Fe-oxide surface suggest As(III) to constitute only 3% of the surface sites while the remainder is occupied by carbonate and silica species. The evolution in water chemistry over depth is homogeneous and a reactive transport model was constructed to quantify the geochemical processes along the vertical groundwater flow component. A redox zonation model was constructed using the partial equilibrium approach with organic carbon degradation in the sediment as the only rate controlling parameter. Apart from the upper meter a constant degradation rate of 0.15 C mmol/L/yr could explain the redox zonation throughout the aquifer. Modeling also indicates that the Fe-oxide being reduced is of a stable type like goethite or hematite. Arsenic is contained in the Fe-oxides and is first released during their dissolution. Our model further suggests that part of the released As is adsorbed on the surface of the remaining Fe-oxides and in this way may be retarded. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.