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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Geosciences

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2011

Month Degree Awarded

September

Keywords

jarosite, Mars, pyrite, iron-sulfate minerals, AMD, acid sulfate soils

Abstract

This study investigates jarosite formation and stability patterns at the abandoned Davis Pyrite Mine in Rowe, Massachusetts. Jarosite, an iron-sulfate hydroxide, is found in acid mine drainage (AMD) environments, in acid sulfate soils, and on Mars. Jarosite and the iron oxides goethite and hematite are present at the site. Soil samples from the site were examined by XRD, SEM, and EDS. Five mineralogical areas were found, based on mineral abundance patterns. Jarosite exists in four of these areas. Two jarosite morphologies were identified. “Variable” jarosite, with partly-dissolved crystals of about 0.5 to 5 micrometers diameter, exists in spoil pile samples. “Donut” jarosite, with tightly-packed, sharp-edged crystals less than 0.5 micrometers that form a thin mantle on the surface of a second mineral, exists in native soil samples. Donut jarosite has not been previously characterized. These jarosite morphologies are controlled by the presence and relative mobility of pyrite oxidation products Fe and SO4, which in turn are controlled by water saturation levels. Three pathways are possible. On Path 1, both ions are mobile, go into solution, and variable jarosite forms at a distance from the pyrite source. On Path 2, only sulfur ions are mobile, an iron-oxide gossan develops. No jarosite forms. On Path 3, neither ion is mobile, and donut jarosite forms. On this path, Fe and SO4 ions are trapped in a thin film of stagnant water covering the pyrite. When sufficient ions are present, donut jarosite precipitates.

First Advisor

Richard F. Yuretich

Included in

Geology Commons

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