Structural Fe in clay minerals is an important redox-active species in many pristine and contaminated environments as well as in engineered systems. Understanding the extent and kinetics of redox reactions involving Fe-bearing clay minerals has been challenging due to the inability to relate structural Fe2+/Fetotal fractions to fundamental redox properties, such as reduction potentials (EH). Here, we overcame this challenge by using mediated electrochemical reduction (MER) and oxidation (MEO) to characterize the fraction of redox-active structural Fe (Fe2+/Fe total) in smectites over a wide range of applied EH-values (-0.6 V to +0.6 V). We examined Fe2+/Fetotal - E H relationships of four natural Fe-bearing smectites (SWy-2, SWa-1, NAu-1, NAu-2) in their native, reduced, and reoxidized states and compared our measurements with spectroscopic observations and a suite of mineralogical properties. All smectites exhibited unique Fe2+/Fetotal - EH relationships, were redox active over wide EH ranges, and underwent irreversible electron transfer induced structural changes that were observable with X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Variations among the smectite Fe2+/Fetotal - EH relationships correlated well with both bulk and molecular-scale properties, including Fe total content, layer charge, and quadrupole splitting values, suggesting that multiple structural parameters determined the redox properties of smectites. The Fe2+/Fetotal - EH relationships developed for these four commonly studied clay minerals may be applied to future studies interested in relating the extent of structural Fe reduction or oxidation to EH-values.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry