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Radiochimica Acta

International Journal for chemical aspects of nuclear science and technology

Editor-in-Chief: Qaim, Syed M.

12 Issues per year

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Volume 99, Issue 2


An integrated study of uranyl mineral dissolution processes: etch pit formation, effects of cations in solution, and secondary precipitation

M. Schindler / Frank C. Hawthorne / P. Mandaliev / Peter C. Burns / P. A. Maurice
  • 4 University of Notre Dame, Dep. of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, Notre Dame, IN, U.S.A.
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Published Online: 2011-01-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/ract.2011.1802


Understanding the mechanism(s) of uranium-mineral dissolution is crucial for predictive modeling of U mobility in the subsurface. In order to understand how pH and type of cation in solution may affect dissolution, experiments were performed on mainly single crystals of curite, Pb2+3(H2O)2[(UO2)4O4(OH)3]2, becquerelite, Ca(H2O)8[(UO2)6O4(OH)6], billietite, Ba(H2O)7[(UO2)6O4(OH)6], fourmarierite Pb2+1−x(H2O)4[(UO2)4O3−2x(OH)4+2x] (x= 0.00–0.50), uranophane, Ca(H2O)5[(UO2)(SiO3OH)]2, zippeite, K3(H2O)3[(UO2)4(SO4)2O3(OH)], and Na-substituted metaschoepite, Na1−x[(UO2)4O2−x(OH)5+x] (H2O)n. Solutions included: deionized water; aqueous HCl solutions at pH 3.5 and 2; 0.5 mol L−1 Pb(II)-, Ba-, Sr-, Ca-, Mg-, HCl solutions at pH 2; 1.0 mol L−1 Na- and K-HCl solutions at pH 2; and a 0.1 mol L−1 Na2CO3 solution at pH 10.5. Uranyl mineral basal surface microtopography, micromorphology, and composition were examined prior to, and after dissolution experiments on micrometer scale specimens using atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Evolution of etch pit depth at different pH values and experimental durations can be explained using a stepwave dissolution model. Effects of the cation in solution on etch pit symmetry and morphology can be explained using an adsorption model involving specific surface sites. Surface precipitation of the following phases was observed: (a) a highly-hydrated uranyl-hydroxy-hydrate in ultrapure water (on all minerals), (b) a Na-uranyl-hydroxy-hydrate in Na2CO3 solution of pH 10.5 (on uranyl-hydroxy-hydrate minerals), (c) a Na-uranyl-carbonate on zippeite, (d) Ba- and Pb-uranyl-hydroxy-hydrates in Ba-HCl and Pb-HCl solutions of pH 2 (on uranophane), (e) a (SiOx(OH)4−2x) phase in solutions of pH 2 (uranophane), and (f) sulfate-bearing phases in solutions of pH 2 and 3.5 (on zippeite).

Keywords: Uranyl minerals; Dissolution; Coatings; Environment; AFM

About the article

* Correspondence address: Laurentian University, Department of Earth Sciences, Sudbury, ON, Kanada,

Published Online: 2011-01-13

Published in Print: 2011-02-01

Citation Information: Radiochimica Acta International journal for chemical aspects of nuclear science and technology, Volume 99, Issue 2, Pages 79–94, ISSN (Print) 0033-8230, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/ract.2011.1802.

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© by Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, Sudbury, ON, Germany. Copyright Clearance Center

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