The discharge of acid mine drainage (AMD) into a reservoir may seriously affect the water quality. To investigate the metal transfer between the water and the sediment, three cores were collected from the Sancho Reservoir (Iberian Pyrite Belt, SW Spain) during different seasons: turnover event; oxic, stratified period; anoxic and under shallow perennially oxic conditions. The cores were sliced in an oxygen-free atmosphere, after which pore water was extracted by centrifugation and analyzed. A sequential extraction was then applied to the sediments to extract the water-soluble, monosulfide, low crystallinity Fe(III)-oxyhydroxide, crystalline Fe(III)-oxide, organic, pyrite and residual phases. The results showed that, despite the acidic chemistry of the water column (pH < 4), the reservoir accumulated a high amount of autochthonous organic matter (up to 12 wt.%). Oxygen was consumed in 1 mm of sediment due to organic matter and sulfide oxidation. Below the oxic layer, Fe(III) and sulfate reduction peaks developed concomitantly and the resulting Fe(II) and S(II) were removed as sulfides and probably as S linked to organic matter. During the oxic season, schwertmannite precipitated in the water column and was redissolved in the organic-rich sediment, after which iron and arsenic diffused upwards again to the water column. The flux of precipitates was found to be two orders of magnitude higher than the aqueous one, and therefore the sediment acted as a sink for As and Fe. Trace metals (Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, Ni, Co) and Al always diffused from the reservoir water and were incorporated into the sediments as sulfides and oxyhydroxides, respectively. In spite of the fact that the benthic fluxes estimated for trace metal and Al were much higher than those reported for lake and marine sediments, they only accounted for less than 10% of their total inventory dissolved in the column water.
Science of the Total Environment, 2013, Vol 461-462