Publications by authors named "Shaun T Brown"

11 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Uranium isotope fractionation by abiotic reductive precipitation.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2018 08 16;115(35):8688-8693. Epub 2018 Aug 16.

Energy Geosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720.

Significant uranium (U) isotope fractionation has been observed during abiotic reduction of aqueous U, counter to the expectation that uranium isotopes are only fractionated by bioassociated enzymatic reduction. In our experiments, aqueous U is removed from solution by reductive precipitation onto the surfaces of synthetic iron monosulfide. The magnitude of uranium isotopic fractionation increases with decreasing aqueous U removal rate and with increasing amounts of neutrally charged aqueous Ca-U-CO species. Our discovery means that abiotic U isotope fractionation likely occurs in any reducing environment with aqueous Ca ≥ 1 mM, and that the magnitude of isotopic fractionation changes in response to changes in aqueous major ion concentrations that affect U speciation. Our results have implications for the study of anoxia in the ancient oceans and other environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1805234115DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6126714PMC
August 2018

Using strontium isotopes to evaluate the spatial variation of groundwater recharge.

Sci Total Environ 2018 Oct 11;637-638:672-685. Epub 2018 May 11.

Earth and Environmental Science Area, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Rd., Berkeley, CA 94720, United States.

Recharge of alluvial aquifers is a key component in understanding the interaction between floodplain vadose zone biogeochemistry and groundwater quality. The Rifle Site (a former U-mill tailings site) adjacent to the Colorado River is a well-established field laboratory that has been used for over a decade for the study of biogeochemical processes in the vadose zone and aquifer. This site is considered an exemplar of both a riparian floodplain in a semiarid region and a post-remediation U-tailings site. In this paper we present Sr isotopic data for groundwater and vadose zone porewater samples collected in May and July 2013 to build a mixing model for the fractional contribution of vadose zone porewater (i.e. recharge) to the aquifer and its variation across the site. The vadose zone porewater contribution to the aquifer ranged systematically from 0% to 38% and appears to be controlled largely by the microtopography of the site. The area-weighted average contribution across the site was 8% corresponding to a net recharge of 7.5 cm. Given a groundwater transport time across the site of ~1.5 to 3 years, this translates to a recharge rate between 5 and 2.5 cm/yr, and with the average precipitation to the site implies a loss from the vadose zone due to evapotranspiration of 83% to 92%, both ranges are in good agreement with previously published results by independent methods. A uranium isotopic (U/U activity ratios) mixing model for groundwater and surface water samples indicates that a ditch across the site is hydraulically connected to the aquifer and locally significantly affects groundwater. Groundwater samples with high U concentrations attributed to natural bio-reduced zones have U/U activity ratios near 1, suggesting that the U currently being released to the aquifer originated from the former U-mill tailings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.05.019DOI Listing
October 2018

Effect of paleoseawater composition on hydrothermal exchange in midocean ridges.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2017 11 6;114(47):12413-12418. Epub 2017 Nov 6.

Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.

Variations in the Mg, Ca, Sr, and SO concentrations of paleoseawater can affect the chemical exchange between seawater and oceanic basalt in hydrothermal systems at midocean ridges (MOR). We present a model for evaluating the nature and magnitude of these previously unappreciated effects, using available estimates of paleoseawater composition over Phanerozoic time as inputs and Sr/Sr of ophiolite epidosites and epidote-quartz veins as constraints. The results suggest that modern hydrothermal fluids are not typical due to low Ca and Sr relative to Mg and SO in modern seawater. At other times during the last 500 million years, particularly during the Cretaceous and Ordovician, hydrothermal fluids had more seawater-derived Sr and Ca, a prediction that is supported by Sr isotope data. The predicted Sr/Sr of vent fluids varies cyclically in concert with ocean chemistry, with some values much higher than the modern value of ∼0.7037. The seawater chemistry effects can be expressed in terms of the transfer efficiency of basaltic Ca and Sr to seawater in hydrothermal systems, which varies by a factor of ∼1.6 over the Phanerozoic, with minima when seawater Mg and SO are low. This effect provides a modest negative feedback on seawater composition and Sr/Sr changes. For the mid-Cretaceous, the low Sr/Sr of seawater requires either exceptionally large amounts of low-temperature exchange with oceanic crust or that the weathering flux of continentally derived Sr was especially small. The model also has implications for MOR hydrothermal systems in the Precambrian, when low-seawater SO could help explain low seawater Sr/Sr.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1709145114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5703293PMC
November 2017

Se Isotopes as Groundwater Redox Indicators: Detecting Natural Attenuation of Se at an in Situ Recovery U Mine.

Environ Sci Technol 2016 Oct 4;50(20):10833-10842. Epub 2016 Oct 4.

Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California , 307 McCone Hall, Berkeley, California 94720, United States.

One of the major ecological concerns associated with the in situ recovery (ISR) of uranium (U) is the environmental release of soluble, toxic selenium (Se) oxyanions generated by mining. Post-mining natural attenuation by the residual reductants in the ore body and reduced down-gradient sediments should mitigate the risk of Se contamination in groundwater. In this work, we investigate the Se concentrations and Se isotope systematics of groundwater and of U ore bearing sediments from an ISR site at Rosita, TX, USA. Our results show that selenate (Se(VI)) is the dominant Se species in Rosita groundwater, and while several up-gradient wells have elevated Se(VI), the majority of the ore zone and down-gradient wells have little or no Se oxyanions. In addition, the δSe of Rosita groundwater is generally elevated relative to the U ore up to +6.14‰, with the most enriched values observed in the ore-zone wells. Increasing δSe with decreasing Se(VI) conforms to a Rayleigh type distillation model with an ε of -2.25‰ ± 0.61‰, suggesting natural Se(VI) reduction occurring along the hydraulic gradient at the Rosita ISR site. Furthermore, our results show that Se isotopes are excellent sensors for detecting and monitoring post-mining natural attenuation of Se oxyanions at ISR sites.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b01464DOI Listing
October 2016

Isotopic Evidence for Reductive Immobilization of Uranium Across a Roll-Front Mineral Deposit.

Environ Sci Technol 2016 06 6;50(12):6189-98. Epub 2016 Jun 6.

Department of Earth and Planetary Science University of California , Berkeley, California 94709, United States.

We use uranium (U) isotope ratios to detect and quantify the extent of natural U reduction in groundwater across a roll front redox gradient. Our study was conducted at the Smith Ranch-Highland in situ recovery (ISR) U mine in eastern Wyoming, USA, where economic U deposits occur in the Paleocene Fort Union formation. To evaluate the fate of aqueous U in and adjacent to the ore body, we investigated the chemical composition and isotope ratios of groundwater samples from the roll-front type ore body and surrounding monitoring wells of a previously mined area. The (238)U/(235)U of groundwater varies by approximately 3‰ and is correlated with U concentrations. Fluid samples down-gradient of the ore zone are the most depleted in (238)U and have the lowest U concentrations. Activity ratios of (234)U/(238)U are ∼5.5 up-gradient of the ore zone, ∼1.0 in the ore zone, and between 2.3 and 3.7 in the down-gradient monitoring wells. High-precision measurements of (234)U/(238)U and (238)U/(235)U allow for development of a conceptual model that evaluates both the migration of U from the ore body and the extent of natural attenuation due to reduction. We find that the premining migration of U down-gradient of the delineated ore body is minimal along eight transects due to reduction in or adjacent to the ore body, whereas two other transects show little or no sign of reduction in the down-gradient region. These results suggest that characterization of U isotopic ratios at the mine planning stage, in conjunction with routine geochemical analyses, can be used to identify where more or less postmining remediation will be necessary.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b00626DOI Listing
June 2016

Unraveling the sources of ground level ozone in the Intermountain Western United States using Pb isotopes.

Sci Total Environ 2015 Oct 29;530-531:519-525. Epub 2015 Apr 29.

University of Nevada, Reno, NV, United States.

Ozone as an atmospheric pollutant is largely produced by anthropogenic precursors and can significantly impact human and ecosystem health, and climate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently proposed lowering the ozone standard from 75 ppbv (MDA8 = Maximum Daily 8-Hour Average) to between 65 and 70 ppbv. This will result in remote areas of the Intermountain West that includes many U.S. National Parks being out of compliance, despite a lack of significant local sources. We used Pb isotope fingerprinting and back-trajectory analysis to distinguish sources of imported ozone to Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. During discrete Chinese Pb events (> 1.1 ng/m(3) & > 80% Asian Pb) trans-Pacific transported ozone was 5 ± 5.5 ppbv above 19 year averages for those dates. In contrast, concentrations during regional transport from the Los Angeles and Las Vegas areas were 15 ± 2 ppbv above the long-term averages, and those characterized by high-altitude transport 3 days prior to sampling were 19 ± 4ppbv above. However, over the study period the contribution of trans-Pacific transported ozone increased at a rate of 0.8 ± 0.3 ppbv/year, suggesting that Asian inputs will exceed regional and high altitude sources by 2015-2020. All of these sources will impact regulatory compliance with a new ozone standard, given increasing global background.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.04.054DOI Listing
October 2015

Isotopic and Geochemical Tracers for U(VI) Reduction and U Mobility at an in Situ Recovery U Mine.

Environ Sci Technol 2015 May 8;49(10):5939-47. Epub 2015 May 8.

#Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, United States.

In situ recovery (ISR) uranium (U) mining mobilizes U in its oxidized hexavalent form (U(VI)) by oxidative dissolution of U from the roll-front U deposits. Postmining natural attenuation of residual U(VI) at ISR mines is a potential remediation strategy. Detection and monitoring of naturally occurring reducing subsurface environments are important for successful implementation of this remediation scheme. We used the isotopic tracers (238)U/(235)U (δ(238)U), (234)U/(238)U activity ratio, and (34)S/(32)S (δ(34)S), and geochemical measurements of U ore and groundwater collected from 32 wells located within, upgradient, and downgradient of a roll-front U deposit to detect U(VI) reduction and U mobility at an ISR mining site at Rosita, TX, USA. The δ(238)U in Rosita groundwater varies from +0.61‰ to -2.49‰, with a trend toward lower δ(238)U in downgradient wells. The concurrent decrease in U(VI) concentration and δ(238)U with an ε of 0.48‰ ± 0.08‰ is indicative of naturally occurring reducing environments conducive to U(VI) reduction. Additionally, characteristic (234)U/(238)U activity ratio and δ(34)S values may also be used to trace the mobility of the ore zone groundwater after mining has ended. These results support the use of U isotope-based detection of natural attenuation of U(VI) at Rosita and other similar ISR mining sites.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.5b00701DOI Listing
May 2015

Technical Note: Calcium and carbon stable isotope ratios as paleodietary indicators.

Am J Phys Anthropol 2014 Aug 17;154(4):633-43. Epub 2014 May 17.

Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 03755; Department of Anthropology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 63130.

Calcium stable isotope ratios are hypothesized to vary as a function of trophic level. This premise raises the possibility of using calcium stable isotope ratios to study the dietary behaviors of fossil taxa and to test competing hypotheses on the adaptive origins of euprimates. To explore this concept, we measured the stable isotope composition of contemporary mammals in northern Borneo and northwestern Costa Rica, two communities with functional or phylogenetic relevance to primate origins. We found that bone collagen δ(13) C and δ(15) N values could differentiate trophic levels in each assemblage, a result that justifies the use of these systems to test the predicted inverse relationship between bioapatite δ(13) C and δ(44) Ca values. As expected, taxonomic carnivores (felids) showed a combination of high δ(13) C and low δ(44) Ca values; however, the δ(44) Ca values of other faunivores were indistinguishable from those of primary consumers. We suggest that the trophic insensitivity of most bioapatite δ(44) Ca values is attributable to the negligible calcium content of arthropod prey. Although the present results are inconclusive, the tandem analysis of δ(44) Ca and δ(13) C values in fossils continues to hold promise for informing paleodietary studies and we highlight this potential by drawing attention to the stable isotope composition of the Early Eocene primate Cantius.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.22530DOI Listing
August 2014

Differential isotopic fractionation during Cr(VI) reduction by an aquifer-derived bacterium under aerobic versus denitrifying conditions.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2012 Apr 27;78(7):2462-4. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, USA.

We studied Cr isotopic fractionation during Cr(VI) reduction by Pseudomonas stutzeri strain RCH2. Despite the fact that strain RCH2 reduces Cr(VI) cometabolically under both aerobic and denitrifying conditions and at similar specific rates, fractionation was markedly different under these two conditions (ε was ∼2‰ aerobically and ∼0.4‰ under denitrifying conditions).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.07225-11DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3302585PMC
April 2012

Pb isotopes as an indicator of the Asian contribution to particulate air pollution in urban California.

Environ Sci Technol 2010 Dec 29;44(23):8911-6. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley, USA.

During the last two decades, expanding industrial activity in east Asia has led to increased production of airborne pollutants that can be transported to North America. Previous efforts to detect this trans-Pacific pollution have relied upon remote sensing and remote sample locations. We tested whether Pb isotope ratios in airborne particles can be used to directly evaluate the Asian contribution to airborne particles of anthropogenic origin in western North America, using a time series of samples from a pair of sites upwind and downwind of the San Francisco Bay Area. Our results for airborne Pb at these sites indicate a median value of 29% Asian origin, based on mixing relations between distinct regional sample groups. This trans-Pacific Pb is present in small quantities but serves as a tracer for airborne particles within the growing Asian industrial plume. We then applied this analysis to archived samples from urban sites in central California. Taken together, our results suggest that the analysis of Pb isotopes can reveal the distribution of airborne particles affected by Asian industrial pollution at urban sites in northern California. Under suitable circumstances, this analysis can improve understanding of the global transport of pollution, independent of transport models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es101450tDOI Listing
December 2010

In situ long-term reductive bioimmobilization of Cr(VI) in groundwater using hydrogen release compound.

Environ Sci Technol 2008 Nov;42(22):8478-85

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, USA.

The results of a field experiment designed to test the effectiveness of a novel approach for long-term, in situ bioimmobilization of toxic and soluble Cr(VI) in groundwater using a hydrogen release compound (HRC)--a slow release glycerol polylactate--are described. The field experiment was conducted at the Hanford Site (Washington), a U.S. Department of Energy nuclear production facility, using a combination of hydrogeological, geophysical, geochemical, and microbiological measurements and analyses of water samples and sediments. The results of this experiment show that a single HRC injection into groundwater stimulates an increase in biomass, a depletion of terminal electron acceptors O2, NO3-, and SO4(2-), and an increase in Fe2+, resulting in a significant decrease in soluble Cr(VI). The Cr(VI) concentration has remained below the background concentration in the downgradient pumping/ monitoring well, and below the detection limit in the injection well for more than 3 years after the HRC injection. The degree of sustainability of Cr(VI) reductive bioimmobilization under different redox conditions at this and other contaminated sites is currently under study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es801383rDOI Listing
November 2008