Abstract

Suspended solids from several rivers of the Amazon Basin (Brazil) have been studied in both the particulate (> 0,2 μm) and colloidal (0.2 μm-5kD) fractions through a combination of tools including Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and potentiometric measurements. Particulate and colloidal matter are organo-mineral and organic, respectively. Signatures of the particulate fractions distinguish Rio Amazonas/Rio Solimoes rivers and the northern basin rivers (Rio Negro, Rio Branco, Rio Trombetas). In the latter, kaolinites are the dominant clays and exhibit close crystal chemistry characters such as degree of disorder. FT-IR of colloids exhibits similar signatures of humic substances in all rivers. By contrast, EPR reveals various species which qualitatively and quantitatively differentiate the riverborne colloids: trivalent iron occurring as specific complexes with organic functional groups or as oxides sensu lato, divalent manganese, organic free radicals. The observed differences may be inherited from the weathering processes working in the main pedoclimatic regions drained by the studied rivers. Insights from potentiometric measurements of the recovered colloids also evidence a humic like reactivity consistent with carboxyl and phenol moieties, the relative contributions of which differentiate the Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes/Amazonas.

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