Adsorption of radium and barium on goethite and ferrihydrite: A kinetic and surface complexation modelling study

M Sajih, N D Bryan, F R Livens, D J Vaughan, M Descostes, V Phrommavanh, J Nos, Katherine Morris

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Radium and barium uptake onto ferrihydrite and goethite have been studied in the concentration range 1nM to 5mM and from pH 4 to 10, to develop a model to predict radium behaviour in legacy uranium mining wastes. For ferrihydrite, uptake of Ra2+ at nM concentrations was strong at pH > 7. At higher concentrations, Ba2+ sorption to ferrihydrite was slightly weaker than that of Ra2+. Experiments with goethite showed weaker binding for both metal ions in all systems. The interactions of radium with both ferrihydrite and goethite are fully reversible. The behaviour of radium during transformation of ferrihydrite to goethite has been studied, and no evidence for irreversible incorporation within the goethite lattice was found; radium uptake to goethite was the same, whether or not it was present during its formation. Calcium competed with radium for ferrihydrite sorption only at high calcium concentrations (>10mM). Barium is a more effective competitor, and a concentration of 1mM reduced radium sorption. Sediment samples from a legacy uranium mining site have been analysed, and the in situ Rd values are consistent with radium uptake by surface coatings of ferrihydrite or goethite like phases. Surface complexation models have been developed for radium sorption to ferrihydrite and goethite which simulate the experimental data successfully. In both cases, approaches based on a single surface functional group and tetradentate binding sites simulated the data successfully. These data could be used in underpinning the safety case for legacy mining sites.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)150-163
    Number of pages14
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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