Sources and behavior of arsenic and trace elements in groundwater and surface water in the Poopo Lake Basin, Bolivian Altiplano

Ramos Ramos, Oswaldo Eduardo and Caceres, Luis Fernando and Ormachea Munoz, Mauricio Rodolfo and Bhattacharya, Prosun and Quino, Israel and Quintanilla, Jorge and Sracek, Ondra and Bundschuh, Jochen and Garcia, Maria Eugenia (2012) Sources and behavior of arsenic and trace elements in groundwater and surface water in the Poopo Lake Basin, Bolivian Altiplano. Environmental Earth Sciences, 66 (3). pp. 793-807. ISSN 1866-6280

Abstract

Water management in semiarid and arid catchments such as the Poopo Lake Basin requires improved understanding of the complex behavior of the various contaminants, which affect the drinking water quality and considered as crucial for sustainable development of the region. Mechanisms of arsenic (As) release in the surface and groundwater were studied. Hydrochemical data for surface water (4 samples) and groundwater (28 samples) were collected in a small watershed in the Poopo catchment at the highland of the Bolivian Andes (Altiplano). All of them show high electrical conductivity values and moderately oxidizing conditions. The surface water contains high concentration of sulfate and the trace elements As, Zn and Pb in the zone affected by acid mine drainage. There is a large variability of the concentration of As and of the trace elements in the groundwater in the five different regions within the Poopo catchment. The metal concentrations sensitive to changes of redox state and results of speciation modeling suggest that As (V) is a predominant aqueous species, which conforms to the prevailing oxidizing conditions in the shallow groundwater environment. Two generalized trends for As distribution were identified in groundwater: (a) high concentrations are found in the arid zone (100–250 μg/L) in the southern (region III) and in the northwestern (region V) regions, and (b) low concentrations (<50 μg/L) are found in the remaining part of the basin (region I, II and IV). However, the spatial distribution within these regions needs to be investigated further. A conclusion from the present study is that there are multiple sources of As as well as other trace elements (such as Cd, Mn and Zn) in the Poopo Lake Basin. Among the sources and the processes which led to the mobility of As and other trace metals in the region are: (a) weathering of sulfide minerals, (b) oxidation of pyrite and/or arsenopyrite in mineralized areas and (c) desorption from hydrous ferric oxide (HFO) surfaces. In non-mining areas, volcanic ash is suggested to be a significant source of As.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2011 Springer-Verlag. Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2013 06:18
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2015 01:48
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bolivia; Altiplano; groundwater; hydrochemistry; arsenic; trace elements; mobilization; drinking water quality
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment
04 Earth Sciences > 0402 Geochemistry > 040202 Inorganic Geochemistry
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961103 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments (excl. Urban and Industrial Use)
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1007/s12665-011-1288-1
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/22905

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