The mobility, bioavailability and toxicity of mercury in the environment strongly depend on the chemical species in which it is present in soil, sediments, water or air. In mining districts, differences in mobility and bioavailability of mercury mainly arise from the different type of mineralization and ore processing. In this work, synchrotron-based X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES) has been taken advantage of to study the speciation of mercury in geological samples from three of the largest European mercury mining districts: Almadén (Spain), Idria (Slovenia) and Asturias (Spain). XANES has been complemented with a single extraction protocol for the determination of Hg mobility. Ore, calcines, dump material, soil, sediment and suspended particles from the three sites have been considered in the study. In the three sites, rather insoluble sulfide compounds (cinnabar and metacinnabar) were found to predominate. Minor amounts of more soluble mercury compounds (chlorides and sulfates) were also identified in some samples. Single extraction procedures have put forward a strong dependence of the mobility with the concentration of chlorides and sulfates. Differences in efficiency of roasting furnaces from the three sites have been found. © 2010 International Union of Crystallography Printed in Singapore - All rights reserved.
- Mercury speciation