Surface complexation modeling of americium sorption onto volcanic tuff.

Abstract

Results of a surface complexation model (SCM) for americium sorption on volcanic rocks (devitrified and zeolitic tuff) are presented. The model was developed using PHREEQC and based on laboratory data for americium sorption on quartz. Available data for sorption of americium on quartz as a function of pH in dilute groundwater can be modeled with two surface reactions involving an americium sulfate and an americium carbonate complex. It was assumed in applying the model to volcanic rocks from Yucca Mountain, that the surface properties of volcanic rocks can be represented by a quartz surface. Using groundwaters compositionally representative of Yucca Mountain, americium sorption distribution coefficient (Kd, L/Kg) values were calculated as function of pH. These Kd values are close to the experimentally determined Kd values for americium sorption on volcanic rocks, decreasing with increasing pH in the pH range from 7 to 9. The surface complexation constants, derived in this study, allow prediction of sorption of americium in a natural complex system, taking into account the inherent uncertainty associated with geochemical conditions that occur along transport pathways.

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