Weathering of copper metallurgical slags at formerly disposal sites
IPGP - Îlot Cuvier
University of Wroclaw
Historical Cu-Slags located at former industrial sites in Poland are exposed to weathering that may trigger release of metallic contaminants to the surrounding soils. However, the extent to which different metals are leached depends on the mineral composition of the slags and the conditions of their deposition. Historical slags are often crystalline and composed of phases with a variable response to weathering. Also, weathering of crystalline slags (CS) is different from that of amorphous slags (AS). To understand how the slag phase composition triggers weathering and the ultimate release of metallic elements, we studied the leaching of historical crystalline and amorphous slag. A combined geochemical and mineralogical approach determined the weathering sequence(s) of slag components subjected to different conditions of specific slag disposal. In detail, experiments under: i) various pH conditions in the range of 2–13 in a batch mode simulated slag deposition within a deep soil profile, whereas ii) exposure to solutions of artificial root exudates (ARE) in a dynamic experimental system simulated slag deposition within topsoil. The results demonstrated that crystalline phases in the order Leucite > Plagioclase > Pyroxene are preferentially dissolved in inorganic conditions of a pH?7, in contrast to glass, which is preferentially dissolved in alkaline conditions (pH > 7). Also, inorganic conditions better promote the dissolution of metal-bearing phases (sulphides and metals) when compared to silicates. In contrast, artificial root exudates do not show preferential dissolution of any phase and cause the strongest leaching in all of the analyzed conditions. We show that reconstructing the susceptibility of complex crystalline slags to weathering requires a specific approach including analyses and interpretation of all major components such as Ca, Mg and K, not merely a focus on Si and metals.