Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 1, pp 1–18 | Cite as

Monitoring and assessment of surface water acidification following rewetting of oxidised acid sulfate soils

  • Luke M. Mosley
  • Benjamin Zammit
  • Ann-Marie Jolley
  • Liz Barnett
  • Rob Fitzpatrick


Large-scale exposure of acid sulfate soils during a hydrological drought in the Lower Lakes of South Australia resulted in acidification of surface water in several locations. Our aim was to describe the techniques used to monitor, assess and manage these acidification events using a field and laboratory dataset (n = 1,208) of acidic to circum-neutral pH water samples. The median pH of the acidified (pH < 6.5) samples was 3.8. Significant (p < 0.05) increases in soluble metals (Al, Co, Mn, Ni and Zn above guidelines for ecosystem protection), SO4 (from pyrite oxidation), Si (from aluminosilicate dissolution) and Ca (from carbonate dissolution and limestone addition), were observed under the acidic conditions. The log of the soluble metal concentrations, acidity and SO4/Cl ratio increased linearly with pH. The pH, alkalinity and acidity measurements were used to inform aerial limestone dosing events to neutralise acidic water. Field measurements correlated strongly with laboratory measurements for pH, alkalinity and conductivity (r 2 ≥ 0.97) but only moderately with acidity (r 2 = 0.54), which could be due to difficulties in determining the indicator-based field titration endpoint. Laboratory measured acidity correlated well with calculated acidity (r 2 = 0.87, acidity present as AlIII >> H+ ≈ MnII > FeII/III) but was about 20 % higher on average. Geochemical speciation calculations and XRD measurements indicated that solid phase minerals (schwertmannite and jarosite for Fe and jurbanite for Al) were likely controlling dissolved metal concentrations and influencing measured acidity between pH 2 and 5.


Pyrite Acid mine drainage Metal geochemistry Secondary oxyhydroxysulfate minerals Metal speciation Acid neutralisation 



The assistance of EPA staff (David Palmer, Emily Leyden, Peter Mettam, Ashley Natt, Karl Fradley and Jarrod Spencer) in sample collection and analysis is gratefully acknowledged as is the project management assistance of staff from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. We thank Mark Raven and Peter Self from CSIRO Land and Water for XRD analyses. The part funding contribution of the South Australian Government’s Murray Futures program funded by the Australian Government’s Water for the Future Initiative, and the Murray–Darling Basin Authority are also gratefully acknowledged. We also appreciate the constructive comments of an anonymous reviewer.

Supplementary material

10661_2013_3350_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (618 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 617 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luke M. Mosley
    • 1
    • 3
  • Benjamin Zammit
    • 1
  • Ann-Marie Jolley
    • 2
  • Liz Barnett
    • 2
  • Rob Fitzpatrick
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Water Quality BranchEnvironment Protection Authority (South Australia)AdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Department for Environment Water and Natural ResourcesAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Acid Sulfate Soils Research CentreUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.CSIRO Land and WaterAdelaideAustralia

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