Analyses of trace elements on quartz surfaces in sulfidic mine tailings from Kristineberg (Sweden) a few years after remediation

Müller, B.,  Axelsson, M.D., Öhlander, B.
Environmental Geology

Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) has been applied to determine the elemental composition of the surface layer, as well as of the first interior layer, of quartz grains from the mine tailings from Kristineberg (northern Sweden) in order to determine concentration gradients between these two layers. The quartz grains were collected from the oxidized and unoxidized zones within the tailings. The aim of this study is to assess the role of quartz surfaces as sites for the attenuation of solutes from the mine-tailings porewater. Concentrations of Cu, Ag, Sb, Pb and Bi are highest near the surface of each grain and decrease towards the interior. The surface concentration of Cu, Zn and Pb is more pronounced within the unoxidized than within the oxidized zone of the tailings. Cu exhibits a distinct concentration peak at the surface of the quartz grains below the pre-remediation oxidation front. For Zn and Ce the trend of high surface concentration is less pronounced than for Cu or Pb. Silver, Bi and As are preferably adsorbed within the uppermost layers of the oxidized zone where the pH is as high as 6.2. The conversion of intensity signals of the elements to concentration values in ppm was done by using external standards (NIST silicate glass).