Biogenic manganese oxides are common and an important source of reactive mineral surfaces in the environment that may be potentially enhanced in bioremediation cases to improve natural attenuation. Experiments were performed in which the uranyl ion, UO22+ (U(VI)), at various concentrations was present during manganese oxide biogenesis. At all concentrations, there was strong uptake of U onto the oxides. Synchrotron-based extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction (XRD) studies were carried out to determine the molecular-scale mechanism by which uranyl is incorporated into the oxide and how this incorporation affects the resulting manganese oxide structure and mineralogy. The EXAFS experiments show that at low concentrations (<0.3 mol % U, <1 μM U(VI) in solution), U(VI) is present as a strong bidentate surface complex. At high concentrations (>2 mol % U, >4 μM U(VI) in solution), the presence of U(VI) affects the stability and structure of the Mn oxide to form poorly ordered Mn oxide tunnel structures, similar to todorokite. EXAFS modeling shows that uranyl is present in these oxides predominantly in the tunnels of the Mn oxide structure in a tridentate complex. Observations by XRD corroborate these results. Structural incorporation may lead to more stable U(VI) sequestration that may be suitable for remediation uses. These observations, combined with the very high uptake capacity of the Mn oxides, imply that Mn-oxidizing bacteria may significantly influence dissolved U(VI) concentrations in impacted waters via sorption and incorporation into Mn oxide biominerals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry