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Sci Total Environ. 2006 Dec 15;372(1):306-16. Epub 2006 Oct 24.

Weathering and erosion fluxes of arsenic in watershed mass budgets.

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Institute of Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Mineral Resources, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Albertov 6, Prague 2, 128 43, Czech Republic.


Arsenic in natural waters and in soils represents a serious health hazard. Natural sources of this element in soil are the subject of this communication. Weathering mass balance of As and rates of weathering in soils are evaluated from monitored inputs and outputs in two small watersheds. These watersheds are located within the Celina-Mokrsko gold district, Czech Republic. Annual chemical weathering fluxes of As are calculated from the monthly weighted means of stream water and groundwater. The fluxes are corrected for atmospheric precipitation, agrochemical inputs, and biological uptake. Mechanical and chemical weathering rates of the arsenopyrite-bearing rocks in the watersheds were estimated from mass balance data on sodium and silica. The input of As due to total weathering of bedrock was estimated to be 1369 g ha(-1)yr(-1) in the Mokrsko watershed (MW) and 81 g ha(-1)yr(-1) in the Celina watershed (CW). These results indicate that the annual weathering rate of As in the watersheds represents more than 95% of the total As input to the soil. Accumulation rate of As in the soil was estimated at 311 g ha(-1)yr(-1) in MW and 69 g ha(-1)yr(-1) in CW. The mass balance method for calculation of weathering rate of As was used, and the results suggest that weathering could be the most important process in the As biogeochemistry of the areas with elevated As content in the bedrock. Simple model of weathering and erosion can be used successfully in estimating their role in As pollution on the scale of small watershed. The method is also useful for indicating the mass balance of As in soils that is controlled by both the natural and anthropogenic inputs and outputs of As.

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