Environmental Mineralogy: Microbial Interactions, Anthropogenic Influences, Contaminated Land and Waste Management
The past 10 years or so have seen the emergence of a discipline known as ‘Environmental Mineralogy’. This should be regarded not as a new discipline per se, but as a new application of traditional mineralogy. Mineralogists have always sought to understand the chemical and physical environment under which a particular mineral forms and to determine the arrangement of atoms within that mineral. The field of Environmental Mineralogy asks the same questions in a different context. For example, can minerals assist in the remediation of contaminated soils and waters? Which minerals can potentially be deleterious to, inter alia, buildings, ecology and human health? Which minerals are suitable as containment for waste? How does the biota interact with minerals? Environmental Mineralogy is emerging as a field that seeks to define the roles of minerals in all environmental systems, and to work towards the preservation and restoration of such systems. Environmental Mineralogy is achieving prominence because of increasing concern regarding the environments in which we live. Mineralogists have perceived a gap in our understanding of how minerals behave in the surface environment and a need for innovative,‘green’ solutions to the problems of contamination and waste. However, the emergence of Environmental Mineralogy also owes much to modern analytical technology. Many minerals in the surface environment fall within the clay-grade range and therefore, demand high-resolution systems for analysis. Similarly, trace elements are now detectable at exceptionally low concentrations in a wide variety of matrices. Further, many mineral-environment interactions need to be examined at the atomic scale for a greater understanding of the interactive processes involved. This requires the application of the latest technologies such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy to name but a few. The aim of this monograph is to provide an up-to-date account of the state of this diverse subject area. With chapters containing a strong review element, it is hoped that this volume will appeal to both researchers and students alike. The volume is arranged in four sections: (1) mineral-microbe interactions; (2) anthropogenic influences on mineral interactions; (3) minerals in contaminated environments; and (4) minerals and waste management. These four sections by no means give exhaustive coverage of the subject area, but communicate some of the most important developments taking place at the present time.
Section 2: Anthropogenic influences on mineral interactions
Published:January 01, 2000
L. S. Campbell, 2000. "Section 2: Anthropogenic influences on mineral interactions", Environmental Mineralogy: Microbial Interactions, Anthropogenic Influences, Contaminated Land and Waste Management, J. D. Cotter-Howells, L. S. Campbell, E. Valsami-Jones, M. Batchelder
Download citation file:
The ‘Anthropogenic Influences ’ section of this volume on Environmental Mineralogy is concerned with controls on mineral-environment interactions that are in some way influenced by human activity. Mineral-environment interactions include all types of mineral growth and decomposition, with associated chemical and isotopic signatures, and all other chemical reactions such as ion exchange and adsorption. The controls on these interactions are the physical, chemical and biological conditions that exist in the immediate vicinity of the mineral.
Many mineral-environment interactions occur naturally in response to natural processes of change, and the significance of an anthropogenic influence may simply be in the rate or the scale of change. Thus, for example, pyrite oxidation resulting in the liberation of protons (pH decrease), has occurred wherever pyritiferous rocks have been exposed to the atmosphere or to oxygenated waters (Keith and Vaughan, chapter 7). But it is often only where humans have opened new conduits in rocks, or have spatially concentrated gangue sulphides in heaps of high-porosity mine waste, that the scale of interactions has become significant to the wider environment. Alternatively, the significance of an anthropogenic influence may be in the combining of substances that would not normally be found together in nature, or it may be in the creation of reactive conditions.