The effect of manipulating sediment pH on the porewater chemistry of copper- and zinc-spiked sediments
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Spiking of sediment with metal cations that readily hydrolyse causes the sediment pH to decrease. Displaced iron and manganese also oxidise and hydrolyse, further lowering sediment pH. The lower pH of metal-spiked sediments requires a subsequent sediment neutralisation. This research compared the pH adjustment of Cu- and Zn-spiked sediments using single and multiple additions of 1 M NaOH. Sediment pH, redox potential, and porewater metal concentrations were monitored over 40 days. Depth profiles were also measured to investigate stratification. A single pH adjustment to pH 7 and 8 initially counteracted the pH change caused by metal additions, however, pH continued to decrease slowly thereafter. Multiple pH adjustments diminished porewater Cu, Zn and Fe concentrations to a greater extent than a single pH adjustment, but the ongoing oxidative precipitation of porewater metals continued to consume OH ions and impede pH maintenance. Displacement of high iron(II) concentrations and the opposing rates of iron(II) oxidative precipitation and bacterially-mediated iron(II) production, affected the partitioning of the added metals between the sediment and pore water. Despite similar pH over the spiked-metal concentration gradient following pH adjustment, sediments spiked with higher metal concentrations produced lower porewater Fe concentrations, possibly due to toxicity to iron(III) oxyhydroxide reducing bacteria. Distinct stratification of redox potential and dissolved Fe and Cu developed over a depth of 6 cm during the 40-day equilibration period. Recommendations are provided on methods for preparing metal-spiked sediments in which the partitioning of metals between dissolved and particulate phases better resembles that of in situ (field) metal-contaminated sediments.