Microscopically Focused Synchrotron X-ray Investigation of Selenium Speciation in Soils Developing on Reclaimed Mine Lands

Chemical speciation determines Se solubility and therefore its bioavailability and potential for transport in the environment. In this study we investigated the speciation of Se in soil developed on reclaimed mine sites in the U.S. Western Phosphate Resource Area (WPRA) using micro-X-ray absorption near-edge structure (μ-XANES) spectroscopy and micro-X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) mapping. Selenium was nonuniformly distributed in the soils and positively correlated with Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, and Ni. Sixteen points of interest (POI) from three soil samples were analyzed with μ-XANES spectroscopy. The XANES data indicated that Se is present in the soils in at least three oxidation states, Se(−II, 0), Se(IV), and Se(VI). Selenides or elemental Se dominated 7 of the 16 POI. Selenate was the dominant species at only one of the POI. The remaining eight POI were composed of both Se(IV) and Se(VI), with minor Se(−II, 0) contributions. The results of this research suggest that the reduced Se species in the soil parent material are oxidizing to Se(VI), one of the more mobile species of Se in the environment. This information can be used to better predict and manage Se availability in soils.