Arsenic and fluorine in the Etnean volcanics from Biancavilla, Sicily, Italy: Environmental implications

S. Mazziotti-Tagliani, M. Angelone, G. Armiento, R. Pacifico, C. Cremisini, A. Gianfagna

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Mineralogical and geochemical studies were undertaken in the volcanic area of Biancavilla (Catania, Italy) with the aim of explaining the nature of the high As and F contents of the area's rocks. As and F contents in soils and groundwater were also investigated. The metasomatised benmoreite lavas show fluorine and arsenic concentrations up to about 3,000 and 1,000 mg/kg, respectively. Mineralogical analyses show that fluorine occurs mostly in fluoro-edenite and apatite-(CaF) crystals, both abundantly present in the altered rocks, while As is exclusively attributed to the apatite-(CaF) crystals. Specifically, arsenic was observed only at the borders of these apatite crystals. Leaching tests and sequential extraction procedures were carried out to evaluate the potential remobilisation of As and F by the mineral phases and the eventual risks induced by their spreading. The results of the leaching tests suggest that As is almost totally associated with the 'easily reducible' fraction and that it is released by the preferential dissolution of the arsenic enriched rims of apatite-(CaF) crystals. In soils, As concentration is relatively low (about 15 mg/kg, on average), while F ranges from 236 to 683 mg/kg. The underground waters supplying the town of Biancavilla show As and F contents lower than the allowed limits for drinking water, (As:10 μg/L, F:1-1.5 mg/L). The limited distribution of these rocks and the relatively limited mobilisation by the minerals both contribute to maintain low As and F values, in soils and groundwaters, despite the high values in metasomatised lava samples. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561 - 572
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

Cite this

Mazziotti-Tagliani, S., Angelone, M., Armiento, G., Pacifico, R., Cremisini, C., & Gianfagna, A. (2012). Arsenic and fluorine in the Etnean volcanics from Biancavilla, Sicily, Italy: Environmental implications. Environmental Earth Sciences, 66(2), 561 - 572.