Uranium Redistribution Due to Water Table Fluctuations in Sandy Wetland Mesocosms

Emily R. Gilson, Shan Huang, Paul G. Koster Van Groos, Kirk G. Scheckel, Odeta Qafoku, Aaron D. Peacock, Daniel I. Kaplan, Peter R. Jaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


To understand better the fate and stability of immobilized uranium (U) in wetland sediments, and how intermittent dry periods affect U stability, we dosed saturated sandy wetland mesocosms planted with Scirpus acutus with low levels of uranyl acetate for 4 months before imposing a short drying and rewetting period. Concentrations of U in mesocosm effluent increased after drying and rewetting, but the cumulative amount of U released following the dry period constituted less than 1% of the total U immobilized in the soil during the 4 months prior. This low level of remobilization suggests, and XANES analyses confirm, that microbial reduction was not the primary means of U immobilization, as the U immobilized in mesocosms was primarily U(VI) rather than U(IV). Drying followed by rewetting caused a redistribution of U downward in the soil profile and to root surfaces. Although the U on roots before drying was primarily associated with minerals, the U that relocated to the roots during drying and rewetting was bound diffusely. Results show that short periods of drought conditions in a sandy wetland, which expose reduced sediments to air, may impact U distribution without causing large releases of soil-bound U to surface waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12214-12222
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 20 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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