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Copper behaviour in a Podosol. 1. pH-dependent sorption–desorption, sorption isotherm analysis, and aqueous speciation modelling

Edward D. Burton A B , Ian R. Phillips A , Darryl W. Hawker A and Dane T. Lamb A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld, 4111, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Current address: Centre for Acid Sulfate Soil Research, School of Environmental Science and Management, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia; Email:

Australian Journal of Soil Research 43(4) 491-501
Submitted: 9 August 2004  Accepted: 17 December 2004   Published: 30 June 2005


The effects of pH and Cu loading on the solid/solution partitioning of Cu in a Podosol from south-east Queensland, Australia was examined. Sorption–desorption of Cu exhibited maximum linear distribution coefficients (KD) at approximately pH 5. Observed decrease in KD values at pH >5 was attributed to increased solubility of native dissolved organic carbon (DOC) at higher pH and subsequent formation of non-sorbing Cu–DOC complexes. Speciation modelling with the MINTEQA2 code indicated that >90% of aqueous Cu was present as Cu–DOC complexes at pH >5.5. The effect of Cu loading was examined with sorption isotherm analysis at pH 5 using solid : solution ratio approaches that were both constant (1?:?2 and 1?:?10) and variable. As the solid : solution ratio increased, the proportion of Cu sorbed decreased due to the formation of Cu-DOC complexes. However, this effect was negligible once these Cu–DOC complexes were accounted for via free Cu2+ sorption isotherms. This indicated that Cu2+ sorption at concentrations <0.08 mg/L was described by a KD value of approximately 3000 L/kg. Despite this relatively high KD value for Cu2+ sorption, the results indicate that Cu–DOC complexes significantly enhance Cu solubility in soils high in DOC.

Additional keywords: trace metals, partitioning, solubility, MINTEQA2.


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