Characterization of Iron and Organic Carbon Colloids in Boreal Rivers and Their Fate at High Salinity

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Abstract

Riverine colloids are important carriers of macronutrients, trace metals, and pollutants into marine waters. The aim of the current study was to extend the understanding of iron (Fe) and organic carbon (OC) colloids in boreal rivers and their fate at higher salinities. X-ray absorbance spectroscopy (XAS) and dynamic light scattering (DLS) were combined to explore Fe speciation and colloidal characteristics such as size and surface charge and how these are affected at increasing salinity. XAS confirmed the presence of two Fe phases in the river waters—Fe-organic matter (OM) complexes and Fe(oxy)hydroxides. From DLS measurements on filtered and unfiltered samples, three particle size distributions were identified. The smallest particles (10–40 nm) were positively charged and suggested to consist of essentially bare Fe(oxy)hydroxide nanoparticles. The largest particles (300–900 nm) were dominated by Fe(oxy)hydroxides associated with chromophoric molecular matter. An intermediate size distribution (100–200 nm) with a negative surface charge was presumably dominated by OM and containing Fe-OM complexes. Increasing the salinity resulted in a removal of the smallest distribution. Unexpectedly, both the intermediate and largest size distributions were still detected at high salinity. The collective results suggest that Fe(oxy)hydroxides and Fe-OM complexes are both found across the wide size range studied and that colloidal size does not necessarily reflect either Fe speciation or stability toward salinity-induced aggregation. The findings further demonstrate that also particles beyond the typically studied <0.45-μm size range should be considered to fully understand the riverine transport and fate of macronutrients, trace metals, and pollutants.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Chemistry

Keywords

  • DLS, Fe speciation, natural colloids, size distribution, XAS
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019JG005517
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences
Volume125
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes