Mechanistic insights into iodine enrichment in groundwater during the transformation of iron minerals in aquifer sediments

Junxia Li, Yuting Wang, Xiaobin Xue, Xianjun Xie, Matthew G. Siebecker, Donald L. Sparks, Yanxin Wang

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11 Scopus citations


Long-term intake of groundwater with elevated iodine concentration can cause thyroid dysfunction in humans; however, little is known on the mechanisms controlling the fate of iodine in groundwater systems. In this study, the groundwater and aquifer sediment samples from the Datong basin, a geologic iodine-affected area, were collected to perform the batch incubation experiments to understand the release and enrichment of iodine in groundwater systems. The results showed that the groundwater from the deep confined aquifer had a total iodine concentration of 473 μg/L, higher than that of shallow groundwater, and iodide is the dominant species of iodine. The deep confined aquifer was characterized by the reducing conditions. Meanwhile, a higher ratio of Fe(II) to total Fe was observed in bulk deep aquifer sediments (59%) in comparison with that of shallow sediments (33%). The results of batch incubation experiments showed that during the reductive transformation of Fe minerals in shallow aquifer sediments, iodide concentration in solution was gradually increasing from 24.7 to 101.5 μg/L after 10 days. It suggests that the transformation of Fe minerals in aquifer sediments acts as a diver causing the release of iodine from sediment into groundwater, which was further supported by the features Fe K-edge EXAFS before and after the batch experiments. Moreover, the changes in iodine species from iodate or organic iodine into iodide during the release further promotes the release of sediment iodine, which was supported by the developed geochemical models. The prevalence of reducing condition in deep aquifer favors the enrichment of released iodide. This study provides new insights into the mechanisms of iodide enrichment observed in deep confined aquifer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140922
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 25 2020


  • Datong basin
  • Groundwater
  • Iodine enrichment
  • Iodine species
  • Iron minerals


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