Sedimentation and transport of different soil colloids : Effects of goethite and humic acid

Chen, Yali; Ma, Jie; Wu, Xiaojuan; Weng, Liping; Li, Yongtao


Soil colloids significantly facilitate the transport of contaminants; however, little is known about the effects of highly reactive iron oxide and the most representative organic matter on the transport of soil colloids with different physicochemical properties. This study investigated the effects of goethite (GT) and humic acid (HA) on the sedimentation and transport of soil colloids using settling and column experiments. The stability of soil colloids was found to be related to their properties and decreased in the following order: black soil colloids (BSc) > yellow soil colloids (YSc) > fluvo-aquic soil colloids (FSc). Organic matter increased the stability of BSc, and ionic strength (Ca2+) promoted the deposition of FSc. Colloids in individual and GT colloids (GTc) coexistence systems tended to stabilize at high pH and showed a pH-dependence whereby the stability decreased with decreasing pH. The interaction of GTc and kaolinite led to a dramatic sedimentation of YSc at pH 4.0. HA enhanced the stability of soil colloids, especially at pH 4.0, and obscured the pH-dependent sedimentation of soil colloids. The transport ability of soil colloids was the same as their stability. The addition of GT retarded the transport of soil colloids, which was quite obvious at pH 7.0. This retardation effect was attributed to the transformation of the surface charge of sand from negative to positive, which increased the electrical double-layer attraction. Although sand coated with GT-HA provided more favorable conditions for the transport of soil colloids in comparison to pure sand, the corresponding transport was relatively slow. This suggests that the filtration effect, heterogeneity, and increased surface roughness may still influence the transport of soil colloids.