Soil Minerals Serving as Source of Arsenic in Alluvial Aquifers of Holocene: A Case Study from Indus Delta, Sindh, Pakistan
Groundwater arsenic contamination is recently reported in the alluvial aquifers of Indus deltaic plain. Since the source of arsenic is believed to be natural as widely reported in other deltaic aquifers of same age (Holocene), it is imperative to evaluate the soil characteristics for identifying the sources of arsenic and its mobilization mechanism. For this purpose, 49 soil samples were collected from near aquifer sites in all three talukas of Tando Muhammad Khan district. Visual analysis revealed that soil is light grey in color with fine texture ranging from silt to silty-clay. The X-ray diffraction study reveals the occurrence of quartz, mica and clay minerals in all collected soil samples. Plagioclase feldspar is second dominant mineral group in the order of albite (calcian) >albite>albite (disordered) = anorthite > anorthite (sodian) = anorthite (disordered). Calcite is major carbonate mineral which is detected in 40 out of total 49 soil samples. The occurrence of other occasional minerals includes amesite, nitro-calcite, rutile and zinnwaldite. The frequency of micaceous minerals in collected samples is in the order of clinochlore> polylithionite> Biotite > phlogopite> muscovite. Polylithionite is found in about half of the total soil samples, where most of the aquifers contain arsenic >20 μg/L (Khan, 2014). Phlogopite is observed in seven soil samples which are also associated with clinochlore. On the other hand, biotite is found in 14 sediment samples collected from Tando Muhammad Khan and Bhulri Shah Karim talukas and muscovite occurs in three soil samples of Tando Muhammad Khan taluka. It can be concluded from present study that fine-grained Phyllosilicates have strong affinity for arsenic retention. These sediments are important source of arsenic Indus delta and other deltaic plains of the world.
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