Arsenic and associated trace-elements in groundwater from the Chaco-Pampean plain, Argentina: results from 100 years of research

Nicolli, Hugo B. and Bundschuh, Jochen and Blanco, Maria del C. and Tujchneider, Ofelia C. and Panarello, Hector O. and Dapena, Cristina and Rusansky, Jorge E. (2012) Arsenic and associated trace-elements in groundwater from the Chaco-Pampean plain, Argentina: results from 100 years of research. Science of the Total Environment, 429. pp. 36-56. ISSN 0048-9697


The Chaco-Pampean plain, Argentina, is a vast geographical unit (1,000,000 km2) affected by high arsenic (As) concentrations in universal oxidizing groundwater. The socio-economic development of the region is restricted by water availability and its low quality caused by high salinity and hardness. In addition, high As and associated trace-elements (F, U, V, B, Se, Sb, Mo) concentrations of geogenic origin turn waters unsuitable for human consumption. Shallow groundwater with high As and F concentrations (ranges: < 10–5300 μg As/L; 51–7,340 μg F/L) exceeding the WHO guideline values (As: 10 μg/L; F: 1,500 μg/L) introduces a potential risk of hydroarsenicism disease in the entire region and fluorosis in some areas. The rural population is affected (2–8 million inhabitants). Calcareous loess-type sediments and/or intercalated volcanic ash layers in pedosedimentary sequences hosting the aquifers are the sources of contaminant trace-elements. Large intra and interbasin variabilities of trace-element concentrations, especially between shallow and deep aquifers have been observed. All areas of the Chaco-Pampean plain were affected in different grades: the Chaco-Salteña plain (in the NNE of the region) and the northern La Pampa plain (in the center-south) have been shown the highest concentrations. The ranges of As and F contents in loess-sediments are 6–25 and 534–3340 mg/kg, respectively in the Salí River basin. Three key processes render high As concentrations in shallow aquifers: i) volcanic glass dissolution and/or hydrolysis and leaching of silicates minerals hosted in loess; ii) desorption processes from the surface of Al-, Fe- and Mn-oxi-hydroxides (coating lithic fragments) at high pH and mobilization as complex oxyanions (As and trace elements)in Na-bicarbonate type groundwaters; and iii) evaporative concentration in areas with semiarid and arid climates. Local factors play also an important role in the control of high As concentrations, highly influenced by lithology–mineralogy, soils-geomorphology, actual climate and paleoclimates, hydraulic parameters, and residence time of groundwaters.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher's copyright policy.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2012 22:46
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2014 23:54
Uncontrolled Keywords: hydrogeochemistry; trace-element sources and mobility; arsenic; fluoride; Chaco-Pampean aquifers; endemic hydroarsenicism and fluorosis
Fields of Research : 04 Earth Sciences > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040603 Hydrogeology
09 Engineering > 0914 Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy > 091402 Geomechanics and Resources Geotechnical Engineering
09 Engineering > 0905 Civil Engineering > 090509 Water Resources Engineering
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970109 Expanding Knowledge in Engineering
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.04.048

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