Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Landrum J.T., Bennett P.C., Engel A.S., Alsina M.A., Pastén P.A. and Milliken K. (2009)

Partitioning geochemistry of arsenic and antimony, el Tatio geyser field, Chile. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2008.12.024

Revista : Applied Geochemistry
Volumen : 24
Número : 4
Páginas : 664-676
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


The abundance of As and Sb in aqueous, mineral and biological reservoirs was examined at El Tatio Geyser Field, a unique hydrothermal basin located in the Atacama Desert region of Chile. Here the concentration of total As and Sb in hydrothermal springs and discharge streams are the highest reported for a natural surface water, and the geyser basin represents a significant source of toxic elements for downstream users across Region II, Chile. The geyser waters are near neutral Na:Cl type with 0.45 and 0.021 mmol L-1 total As and Sb, respectively, primarily in the reduced (III) redox state at the discharge with progressive oxidation downstream. The ferric oxyhydroxides associated with the microbial mats and some mineral precipitates accumulate substantial As that was identified as arsenate by XAS analysis
(>10 wt% in the mats). This As is easily mobilized by anion exchange or mild dissolution of the HFO, and the ubiquitous microbial mats represent a significant reservoir of As in this system. Antimony, in contrast, is not associated with the mineral ferric oxides or the biomats, but is substantially enriched in the silica matrix of the geyserite precipitates, up to 2 wt% as Sb2O3. Understanding the mobility and partitioning behavior of these metalloids is critical for understanding their eventual impact on regional water management.