Total Arsenic in a Fishless Desert Spring: Montezuma Well, Arizona

Anne Marie Compton-O'Brien, Richard D. Foust, Michael E. Ketterer, Dean W. Blinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Total arsenic was measured in various matrices from Montezuma Well, a unique ecosystem with many endemic species located in north-central Arizona, U.S.A. Montezuma Well water contains natural arsenic levels of 100 μg/L. Analysis was performed by nitric acid/hydrogen peroxide microwave digestion followed by quadrupole inductively coupled argon plasma mass spectrometry. Sediment, soil, Potamogeton illinoiensis roots, P. illinoiensis leaves, Berula erecta roots, B. erecta leaves, Fissidens grandifrons, Hyallela montezuma, H. azteca, Ranatra montezuma, Telebasis salva, Belostoma bakeri, Motobdella montezuma and DW-rinsed M. montezuma were collected and analyzed. Total arsenic values ranged from 1.0 to 2,810 μg/g (dw). Biodiminution of total arsenic in the littoral zone food web was observed. Total root arsenic levels were higher than leaf arsenic levels. Organisms show different mechanisms for coping with the elevated levels of arsenic found in the Well. The plants, inhibit vertical transport, others exclude arsenic and some absorb arsenic onto their surface in higher quantities than in their cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-209
Number of pages10
JournalACS Symposium Series
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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