Stable sulfur isotope dynamics in an acid sulfate soil landscape following seawater inundation

C. A. Maher, L. A. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In 2002 a tidally driven seawater exchange remediation strategy was successfully implemented on a severely acidified tropical coastal landscape dominated by acid sulfate soils (ASS) in northern Australia. This study examined changes in the stable sulfur isotope signatures in a range of sulfide and sulfate (SO4) fractions at three sites with different levels of exposure to the tidally driven seawater exchange remediation. δ34S in the acid soluble SO4 fraction (e.g. jarosite) was less depleted in 34S than the corresponding sulfide, indicating a degree of fractionation during sulfide oxidation and jarosite precipitation. The δ34S of jarositic-SO4 was similar at all three sites indicating the appreciable stability of jarositic-SO4 even after extended exposure to seawater. δ34S of the water soluble, exchangeable and schwertmannitic-SO4 reflect conditions post remediation and indicate the relative contributions from two potential SO4 sources – a lighter SO4 derived from the oxidation of pyrite, and a heavier SO4 derived from the seawater. The δ34S of the contemporary surficial sulfide accumulations also reflect a SO4 contribution from seawater used for remediation and were isotopically different from the relict sulfides found at depth at all sites. δ34S of water soluble sulfate allowed the progress of the remediation to be traced down the soil profile. This study demonstrates the utility of stable sulfur isotope signatures in various sulfide and SO4 fractions to trace the sulfur geochemical pathways occurring in soils, in this case as a result of the introduction of tidally driven sea water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-212
Number of pages8
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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