Copper mobilization and immobilization

… along an organic matter and redox gradient- insights from a mofette site.

The metal copper (Cu) is known to be an essential trace element for many organisms but it is also considered a severe contaminant at higher concentrations. Especially in soils with changing redox conditions, Cu binding mechanisms and, thus, Cu mobility are hard to predict. The metal is known to have a high affinity to soil organic matter (SOM), i.e., it can either be sequestered by adsorption to solid-phase organic matter or mobilized by complexation with dissolved organic matter. Under reducing conditions, Cu(II) can also be reduced to Cu(I) via biotic and abiotic processes and precipitate in the form of sulfidic minerals.
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Image: Picture of the investigated mofette site (left) and Cu sorption isotherms determined for mofette, transitions, and reference soil in a Cu spike experiment (right).
Credit: Reprinted with permission from Mehlhorn et al. 2018, ES&T, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b02668, Copyright 2018 American Chemical Society