Influence of metal ions and pH on the hydraulic properties of potential acid sulfate soils

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Acid sulfate soils (ASS) cover extensive areas of east Australian coastal floodplains. Upon oxidation, these hydromorphic pyritic sediments produce large quantities of sulfuric acid. In addition, due to their geographic location, these soils may also come in contact with high ionic strength estuarine tidal waters. As a result, there is typically a large variation in acidity (pH) and cation concentrations in soil porewaters and adjacent aquatic systems (e.g., agricultural field drains, rivers, estuaries, etc.). Acid sulfate soils, especially from the unoxidized gelatinous deeper layers, contain a relatively high proportion of montmorillonite, which is wellknown for its shrink-swell properties. Variations in cation concentrations, including H3O+, can influence montmorillonite platelet interactions and may, thus, also significantly affect the hydraulic conductivity of materials containing this clay. In this paper we report on the effect of four common cations, at reasonable environmental concentrations, on the hydraulic properties of potential (unoxidized) acid sulfate soil materials. The natural system was simplified by examining individually the effects of each cation (H+, Ca2+, Fe2+ and Na+) on a soil-water suspension in a filtration cell unit. Moisture ratio, hydraulic conductivity and the consolidation coefficient of the deposited filter cakes were calculated using material coordinates theory. The results indicate that the hydraulic conductivity of potential acid sulfate soils increases at low pH and with cation concentration. Although an increase in the charge of amphoteric edge groups on montmorillonite clays may result in some aggregation between individual clay platelets, we conclude that the extent of these changes are unlikely to cause significant increases in the transportation of acidity (and contaminants) through potential acid sulfate soils as the hydraulic conductivity of these materials remain low ( less than or equal 10-9 m/s) at pH and ionic conditio
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Le, T
Collins, Richard
Waite, T
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty