Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2011, Vol.75(18), pp.5122-5139
► Hydroxybenzoic acids retard ferrihydrite formation due to Fe(III) complexation. ► Hydroquinone ligands are most effective in retarding ferrihydrite formation. ► Hydroxybenzoic acids decrease the structural long-range order of ferrihydrite. ► Hydroxybenzoic acids increase the structural strain in ferrihydrite. ► The ferrihydrite structure contains 13 ± 3% tetrahedral Fe(III). Organic ligands are known to interfere with the polymerization of Fe(III), but the extent of interference has not been systematically studied as a function of structural ligand properties. This study examines how the number and position of phenol groups in hydroxybenzoic acids affect both ferrihydrite formation and its local (〈5 Å) Fe coordination. To this end, acid Fe(III) nitrate solutions were neutralized up to pH 6.0 in the presence of 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (4HB), 2,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid (2,4DHB), and the hydroquinone 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid (3,4DHB). The initial molar ligand/Fe ratios ranged from 0 to 0.6. The precipitates were dialyzed, lyophilized, and subsequently studied by X-ray absorption spectroscopy and synchrotron X-ray diffraction. The solids contained up to 32 wt.% organic C (4HB ∼ 2,4DHB 〈 3,4DHB). Only precipitates formed in 3,4DHB solutions comprised considerable amounts of Fe(II) (Fe(II)/Fe ≤ 6 mol%), implying the abiotic mineralization of the catechol-group bearing ligand during Fe(III) hydrolysis under oxic conditions. Hydroxybenzoic acids decreased ferrihydrite formation in the order 4HB ∼ 2,4DHB ≪ 3,4DHB, which documents that phenol group position rather than the number of phenol groups controls the ligand’s interaction with Fe(III). The coordination numbers of edge- and double corner-sharing Fe in the precipitates decreased by up to 100%. Linear combination fitting (LCF) of Fe K-edge X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectra revealed that this decrease was due to increasing amounts of organic Fe(III) complexes in the precipitates. Although EXAFS derived coordination numbers of Fe in ferrihydrite remained constant within error, all organic ligands decreased the coherently scattering domain (CSD) size of ferrihydrite as indicated by synchrotron X-ray diffraction analysis (4HB 〈 2,4DHB ≪ 3,4DHB). With decreasing particle size of ferrihydrite its Fe(O,OH) octahedra became progressively distorted as evidenced by an increasing loss of centrosymmetry of the Fe sites. Pre-edge peak analysis of the Fe K-edge XANES spectra in conjunction with LCF results implied that ferrihydrite contains on an average 13 ± 3% tetrahedral Fe(III), which is in very good agreement with the revised single-phase structural model of ferrihydrite (Michel, F. M., Barron, V., Torrent, J., Morales, M. P. et al. (2010) Ordered ferrimagnetic form of ferrihydrite reveals links among structure, composition, and magnetism. , 2787–2792). The results suggest that hydroxybenzoic acid moieties of natural organic matter (NOM) effectively suppress ferrihydrite precipitation as they kinetically control the availability of inorganic Fe(III) species for nucleation and/or polymerization reactions. As a consequence, NOM can trigger the formation of small ferrihydrite nanoparticles with increased structural strain. These factors may eventually enhance the biogeochemical reactivity of ferrihydrite formed in NOM-rich environments. This study highlights the role of hydroquinone structures of NOM for Fe complexation, polymerization, and redox speciation.
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