Skip to main content
Reductive transformation of iron and sulfur in schwertmannite-rich accumulations associated with acidified coastal lowlands
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
  • Edward D Burton, Southern Cross University
  • Richard T Bush, Southern Cross University
  • Leigh A Sullivan, Southern Cross University
  • David RG Mitchell, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
Document Type
Publication Date

We examined the transformations of Fe and S associated with schwertmannite (Fe8O8(OH)6SO4) reduction in acidified coastal lowlands. This was achieved by conducting a 91 day diffusive-flux column experiment, which involved waterlogging of natural schwertmannite- and organic-rich soil material. This experiment was complemented by short-term batch experiments utilizing synthetic schwertmannite. Waterlogging readily induced bacterial reduction of schwertmannite-derived Fe(III), producing abundant pore-water FeII, SO4 and alkalinity. Production of alkalinity increased pH from pH 3.4 to pH 6.5 within the initial 14 days, facilitating the precipitation of siderite (FeCO3). Interactions between schwertmannite and FeII at pH 6.5 were found, for the first time, to catalyse the transformation of schwertmannite to goethite (╬▒FeOOH). Thermodynamic calculations indicate that this FeII-catalysed transformation shifted the biogeochemical regime from an initial dominance of Fe(III)-reduction to a subsequent co-occurrence of both Fe(III)- and SO4-reduction. This lead firstly to the formation of elemental S via H2S oxidation by goethite, and later also to formation of nanoparticulate mackinawite (FeS) via H2S precipitation with FeII. Pyrite (FeS2) was a quantitatively insignificant product of reductive Fe and S mineralization. This study provides important new insights into Fe and S geochemistry in settings where schwertmannite is subjected to reducing conditions.

Citation Information
Burton, ED, Bush, RT, Sullivan, LA & Mitchell, DRG 2007, 'Reductive transformation of iron and sulfur in schwertmannite-rich accumulations associated with acidified coastal lowlands', Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, vol. 71, no. 18, pp. 4456-4473.

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta home page available at

Publisher's version of article available at