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Distribution and mineralogical controls on ammonium in deep groundwaters

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David ManningORCiD


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Compositional data from published sources, environmental monitoring and new analyses demonstrate that for a wide range of water types (oilfield water, coal mine water, landfill leachate) NH4+ is present in amounts up to 2200 mg/L. Oilfield waters from Alberta, Canada contain 1-1000 mg/L NH4+, coal mine water (UK) surface discharges 1-45 mg/L NH4+, and landfill leachates (UK) up to 2200 mg/L NH 4+. Ammonium contents generally show a positive correlation with K, and increase with increasing salinity. Geochemical modelling of sufficiently complete data using SOLMINEQ88 demonstrates that NH 4+ activities vary systematically, and are consistent with a mineralogical control. Sodium-K exchange divides the entire sample suite into at least 4 groups, controlled by reaction temperature and reaction with either albite/K-feldspar or illitic clay minerals. In contrast, comparison of NH 4+ and K divides the sample suite into 2 groups. On the basis of geological setting, these correspond to K-NH4+ exchange involving illitic (illite-muscovite) clays (and possibly feldspars) for samples from natural sources, and to exchange involving smectitic clays for samples from landfill sites. This study demonstrates the importance of NH 4+ as a constituent of natural groundwaters, requiring that this reservoir of N is taken into account in detailed discussion of hydrological components of the N cycle. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Manning DAC, Hutcheon I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Geochemistry

Year: 2004

Volume: 19

Issue: 9

Pages: 1495-1503

Print publication date: 01/09/2004

ISSN (print): 0883-2927

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9134

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2004.01.019


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