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 4: Minerals and waste management
Published:January 01, 2000
L. S. Campbell, 2000. "Section 4: Minerals and waste management", Environmental Mineralogy: Microbial Interactions, Anthropogenic Influences, Contaminated Land and Waste Management, J. D. Cotter-Howells, L. S. Campbell, E. Valsami-Jones, M. Batchelder
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The purpose of this introduction is to outline briefly why and how minerals are currently used in various waste disposal and waste management situations, and to introduce three papers on specific aspects of minerals and wastes. A further purpose is to highlight the wider potential of minerals in connection with waste management, by reference to examples from the current and recent literature. Many recent papers on wastes and the geosphere, of relevance to the mineralogist, can be found in Metcalfe and Rochelle, (1999).
At the heart of utilization of any type of material, for any purpose, is an appreciation of the interactive characteristics of that material. In the context of minerals and waste disposal, these characteristics include the intrinsic physical properties of minerals themselves (e.g. density), and in addition, the attributes governing the behaviour of a mineral in relation to its environment. Hence, mineral stability is dependent on both the nature of the mineral itself, and the nature of the surrounding environment. For the purpose of this discussion, the term also encompasses many geotechnical properties of minerals or mineral aggregates, suchas plasticity.