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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Wetlands and Aquatic Processes

Accumulation, Release, and Solubility of Arsenic, Molybdenum, and Vanadium in Wetland Sediments


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 6, p. 2428-2435
    Received: Oct 7, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): doner@nature.berkeley.edu
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  1. Patricia M. Fox and
  2. Harvey E. Doner *
  1. Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management—Ecosystem Sciences, 151 Hilgard Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3110. P.M. Fox, current address: United States Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, Mail Stop 465, Menlo Park, CA 94025


This study was undertaken to determine the fate of As, Mo, and V (trace elements, TEs) in the sediments of a constructed wetland in use for the remediation of potentially toxic trace element–contaminated agricultural drainwater. After three years of wetland operation, sediment cores were collected to determine changes in TE concentrations as a function of depth and the effects of varying water column depth. All TE concentrations were highest in the top 2 to 4 cm and decreased with depth. Molybdenum accumulated in the wetland sediments, up to levels of 32.5 ± 4.6, 30.2 ± 8.9, and 59.3 ± 26.1 mg kg−1 in the top 1 cm of sediment at water depths of 15, 30, and 60 cm, respectively. In the top 2 cm of sediment, As accumulated (28.2 ± 3.0 mg kg−1) only at the 60-cm water depth. Below 2 cm, as much as 10 mg kg−1 of As was lost from the sediment at all water depths. In most cases, V concentrations decreased in the sediment. In this wetland system, the lowest redox potentials were found near the sediment surface and increased with depth. Thus, in general As, Mo, and V concentrations in the sediment were highest under more reducing conditions and lowest under more oxidizing conditions. Most of the accumulated Mo (73%) became water soluble on drying of samples. This has important implications for systems undergoing changes in redox status; for instance, if these wetland sediments are dried, potentially large amounts of Mo may be solubilized.

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