Environmental Chemistry Environmental Chemistry Society
Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
RESEARCH ARTICLE

High-resolution two-dimensional quantitative analysis of phosphorus, vanadium and arsenic, and qualitative analysis of sulfide, in a freshwater sediment

Anthony Stockdale A , William Davison A B and Hao Zhang A

A Department of Environmental Science, Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC), Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK.

B Corresponding author. Fax: +44 (0) 1524 593985. Email: w.davison@lancaster.ac.uk

Environmental Chemistry 5(2) 143-149 https://doi.org/10.1071/EN07096
Submitted: 20 December 2007  Accepted: 22 February 2008   Published: 17 April 2008

Environmental context. Chemical characterisation of sediment microniches can reveal diagenetic processes that may not be detected by larger-scale analysis. With the development of a new preparation method for a binding phase gel, the technique of diffusive gradients in thin films has been used to demonstrate links between the diagenesis of sulfide, phosphorus, vanadium and arsenic at microniches. Knowledge of these processes may improve predictions of past deposition climates where trace elements are considered as paleoredox proxies.

Abstract. Recently introduced techniques that can provide two-dimensional images of solution concentrations in sediments for multiple analytes have revealed discrete sites of geochemical behaviour different from the average for that depth (microniches). We have developed a new preparation method for a binding phase, incorporated in a hydrogel, for the diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) technique. It allows co-analysis of sulfide and the reactive forms of phosphorus, vanadium and arsenic in the porewaters at the surface of the device. This gel, when dried and analysed using laser ablation mass spectrometry, allows the acquisition of high-resolution sub-millimetre-scale data. The binding phase was deployed within a DGT device in a sediment core collected from a productive lake, Esthwaite Water (UK). Localised removal of phosphate and vanadium from the porewaters has been demonstrated at a microniche of local sulfide production. The possible removal processes, including bacterial uptake and reduction of vanadate to insoluble VIII by sulfide, are discussed. Understanding processes occurring at this scale may allow improved prediction of pollutant fate and better prediction of past climates where trace metals are used as paleoredox proxies.

Additional keywords: DGT, early diagenesis, laser ablation, microniche, phosphate.


Acknowledgements

We thank Kent Warnken for providing expertise with the laser ablation set-up and use of the time resolved analysis data processing (TRA) application in PlasmaLab, and Debbie Hurst for assistance with sample collection. A. Stockdale was supported by funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NER/S/A/2005/13679).


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Accessory materials

Details of drying procedure and settings for the TRA software: this material is available free of charge via the Internet at http://www.publish.csiro.au.


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