Redox patterns and trace-element behavior in the East Midlands Triassic Sandstone Aquifer, U.K.

Smedley, Pauline L.; Edmunds, W. Mike. 2002 Redox patterns and trace-element behavior in the East Midlands Triassic Sandstone Aquifer, U.K. Ground Water, 40 (1). 44-58.

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Redox conditions exercise important controls on water chemistry in the red-bed Sherwood Sandstone Aquifer of the English East Midlands. A distinct redox boundary exists some 3 to 5 km downgradient of the onset of confined conditions, defined by a 300 mV drop in Eh and complete reaction of dissolved oxygen. The aerobic aquifer contains polluted water with high nitrate concentrations and organic carbon significantly above background concentrations (> 0.2 mg/L). Concentrations of Fe, Mn, and Mo are highest in reducing ground water. As, Sb, Se, and U show a residence-time-dependent increase in aerobic ground water, but are much lower under reducing conditions. Iron oxides are believed to play a key role in determining the spatial patterns in many of these trace elements as a result of Eh- and pH-controlled sorption/desorption reactions, as well as some reductive dissolution in the confined aquifer. Fresh ground water persists in the confined aquifer to approximately 30 km downgradient of the redox boundary. However, SO4 concentrations increase progressively along the flowline as a result of the dissolution of gypsum or anhydrite. Concentrations of available organic carbon are low in ground water (1 mg/L or less) and are also likely to be limited in the sediments; conditions are insufficiently reducing for significant sulphate reduction to have taken place. Only in the extreme down-gradient (eastern) part of the aquifer do conditions become sufficiently reducing with some evidence of sulphate reduction. In this part of the aquifer, ground water is more saline (TDS values up to 10 g/L) and is believed to be composed substantially of older formation water. This has distinctive concentrations of several redox-influenced trace elements, with relatively high Fe, Mn, As, and Sb, occasional high Cr, and low Mo relative to the confined fresh ground water upgradient.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Groundwater Management
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Groundwater quality, Major aquifers
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Date made live: 23 Nov 2010 16:19 +0 (UTC)

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