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Transport of Sr2+ and SrEDTA2− in Partially-saturated and Heterogeneous Sediments
Journal of Contaminant Hydrology (2007)
  • M. N. Pace, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • M. A. Mayes, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • P. M. Jardine, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Larry McKay, University of Tennessee - Knoxville
  • X. L. Yin, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • T. L. Melhorn, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Q. Liu, Northwestern University
  • H. Gurleyuk
Strontium-90 has migrated deep into the unsaturated subsurface beneath leaking storage tanks in the Waste Management Areas (WMA) at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford Reservation. Faster than expected transport of contaminants in the vadose zone is typically attributed to either physical hydrologic processes such as development of preferential flow pathways, or to geochemical processes such as the formation of stable, anionic complexes with organic chelates, e.g., ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). The goal of this paper is to determine whether hydrological processes in the Hanford sediments can influence the geochemistry of the system and hence control transport of Sr2+ and SrEDTA2−. The study used batch isotherms, saturated packed column experiments, and an unsaturated transport experiment in an undisturbed core. Isotherms and repacked column experiments suggested that the SrEDTA2− complex was unstable in the presence of Hanford sediments, resulting in dissociation and transport of Sr2+ as a divalent cation. A decrease in sorption with increasing solid:solution ratio for Sr2+ and SrEDTA2− suggested mineral dissolution resulted in competition for sorption sites and the formation of stable aqueous complexes. This was confirmed by detection of MgEDTA2−, MnEDTA2−, PbEDTA2−, and unidentified Sr and Ca complexes. Displacement of Sr2+ through a partially-saturated undisturbed core resulted in less retardation and more irreversible sorption than was observed in the saturated repacked columns, and model results suggested a significant reservoir (49%) of immobile water was present during transport through the heterogeneous layered sediments. The undisturbed core was subsequently disassembled along distinct bedding planes and subjected to sequential extractions. Strontium was unequally distributed between carbonates (49%), ion exchange sites (37%), and the oxide (14%) fraction. An inverse relationship between mass wetness and Sr suggested that sandy sediments of low water content constituted the immobile flow regime. Our results suggested that the sequestration of Sr2+ in partially-saturated, heterogeneous sediments was most likely due to the formation of immobile water in drier regions having low hydraulic conductivities.
  • Displacement experiments; Mineral dissolution; Hanford; Mass transfer; Breakthrough curves
Publication Date
May, 2007
Citation Information
M. N. Pace, M. A. Mayes, P. M. Jardine, Larry McKay, et al.. "Transport of Sr2+ and SrEDTA2− in Partially-saturated and Heterogeneous Sediments" Journal of Contaminant Hydrology Vol. 91 Iss. 3-4 (2007)
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