Exploring sustainability of aquifers based on predictive modeling of sorption characteristics of arsenic enriched Holocene sediments in Bangladesh

M. Tauhid-Ur-Rahman, Akira Mano, Keiko Udo, Yoshinobu Ishibashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The importance of accessing safe aquifers in areas with high As is being increasingly recognized. The present study aims to investigate the sorption and mobility of As at the sediment-groundwater interface to identify a likely safe aquifer in the Holocene deposit in southwestern Bangladesh. The upper, shallow aquifer at around 18m depth, which is composed mainly of very fine, grey, reduced sand and contains 24.3μg/g As, was found to produce highly enriched groundwater (190μg/L As). In contrast, deeper sediments are composed of partly oxidized, brownish, medium sand with natural adsorbents like Fe- and Al-oxides; they contain 0.76μg/g As and impart low As concentrations to the water (4μg/L). These observations were supported by spectroscopic studies with SEM, TEM, XRD and XRF, and by adsorption, leaching, column tests and sequential extraction. A relatively high in-situ dissolution rate (Rr) of 1.42×10-16mol/m2/s was derived for the shallower aquifer from the inverse mass-balance model. The high Rr may enhance As release processes in the upper sediment. The field-based reaction rate (Kr) was extrapolated to be roughly 1.23×10-13s-1 and 6.24×10-14s-1 for the shallower and deeper aquifer, respectively, from the laboratory-obtained adsorption/desorption data. This implies that As is more reactive in the shallower aquifer. The partition coefficient for the distribution of As at the sediment-water interface (Kd-As) was found to range from 5 to 235L/kg based on in-situ, batch adsorption, and flow-through column techniques. Additionally, a parametric equation for Kd-As (R2=0.67) was obtained from the groundwater pH and the logarithm of the leachable Fe and Al concentrations in sediment. A one-dimensional finite-difference numerical model incorporating Kd and Kr showed that the shallow, leached As can be immobilized and prevented from reaching the deeper aquifer (∼150m) after 100 year by a natural filter of oxidizing sand and adsorbent minerals like Fe and Al oxides; in this scenario, 99% of the As in groundwater is reduced. The deeper aquifer appears to be an adequate source of sustainable, safe water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-647
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Apr


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