Abstract

ABSTRACT

This study focuses on the abundance and mobility of Ca, Fe, S and trace elements (As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, U, V and Zn) in black shale (alum shale) in SE Sweden. Samples of non-weathered, weathered and burnt black shale were chemically characterized and the potential element release from them was assessed by standard water-based leaching tests and pH/redox-regulated availability tests. Sequential chemical extractions provided further information on the phases in which the elements are bound. Results show that the shale is very rich in As (88–122 ppm), Cd (0.4–4.6 ppm), Mo (64–176 ppm), U (27–71 ppm) and V (496–1560 ppm). Cadmium and Mo, bound mainly in sulphides or organic matter, are very mobile in the non-burnt shale, with mobilization rates of up to 19% (190 μg/kg) and 25% (16 mg/kg), respectively, using only water as extraction medium. The non-weathered shale is also relatively rich in Cu (113 ppm), Ni (100 ppm) and Zn (304 ppm), the latter two in particular showing behaviour similar to that of Cd, but with lower mobilization rates. In all samples U and V are found mainly in weathering-resistant mineral phases and thus have a lower mobility, but due to the high abundance in the material, significant amounts of U can be released on longer time scales (up to 6 mg/kg, as indicated by the pH/redox-regulated test). Less than 1% of the As is released in all the leaching tests, indicating that upon oxidation it is retained in the solid phase. The overall conclusion is that this material has a high potential for releasing Cd, Mo, Ni, U and Zn during weathering.

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