Tungsten Speciation and Solubility in Munitions-Impacted Soils

Benjamín C. Bostick, Jing Sun, Joshua D. Landis, Jay L. Clausen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Considerable questions persist regarding tungsten geochemistry in natural systems, including which forms of tungsten are found in soils and how adsorption regulates dissolved tungsten concentrations. In this study, we examine tungsten speciation and solubility in a series of soils at firing ranges in which tungsten rounds were used. The metallic, mineral, and adsorbed forms of tungsten were characterized using X-ray absorption spectroscopy and X-ray microprobe, and desorption isotherms for tungsten in these soils were used to characterize its solid-solution partitioning behavior. Data revealed the complete and rapid oxidation of tungsten metal to hexavalent tungsten(VI) and the prevalence of adsorbed polymeric tungstates in the soils rather than discrete mineral phases. These polymeric complexes were only weakly retained in the soils, and porewaters in equilibrium with contaminated soils had 850 mg L-1 tungsten, considerably in excess of predicted solubility. We attribute the high solubility and limited adsorption of tungsten to the formation of polyoxometalates such as W12SiO40 4-, an α-Keggin cluster, in soil solutions. Although more research is needed to confirm which of such polyoxometalates are present in soils, their formation may not only increase the solubility of tungsten but also facilitate its transport and influence its toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1053
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2018


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