Partitioning of copper and zinc in the sediments and porewaters of a high-elevation alkaline lake, east-central Arizona, U.S.A.

Mark A. Williamson, Roderic A. Parnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In Pacheta Lake, a high-elevation alkaline lake proximal to the smelting region of southern Arizona-New Mexico, concentrations of transition metal ions in pore waters and co-existing sediments were compared. Copper, Fe, Mn and Zn have been partitioned among operationally defined sediment solid phases (exchangeable sites, organic complexes, amorphous oxides, crystalline oxides, sulfides and residual silicates) and their concentrations in interstitial waters were measured. Concentrations are reported as a function of depth in the sediment column. The diagenetic environment is described and cycling mechanisms postulated for the above metals. Selective, sequential extraction of metals from lake sediments showed different binding mechanisms for Cu and Zn, the former most strongly associated with organic complexes, and the latter with iron oxyhydroxides. This difference has strong implications for selective metal remobilization under variable environmental conditions, both naturally and anthropogenically induced. Copper and zinc in porewaters were estimated to diffuse to overlying waters at 12.8 and 21.9 μg/cm2/a, respectively. These fluxes are large enough to account for observed concentrations of Cu and Zn in overlying waters. No sediment metal contamination was directly attributable to smelting activity. However, this study does document a flux from sediments, which have accumulated Cu and Zn, to overlying waters no longer receiving trace metal deposition from now inactive smelters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-608
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Partitioning of copper and zinc in the sediments and porewaters of a high-elevation alkaline lake, east-central Arizona, U.S.A.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this