A survey of the natural and anthropogenic sources of lead contributing to secondary minerals in sulphidic schists associated with arsenic-enriched groundwater in Coastal Maine shows that the most likely source is natural Pb, particularly from coexisting sulphide minerals. The secondary minerals also reflect notable contributions from anthropogenic Pb. The Pb isotopes establish pathways by which Pb, and by inference As, could have been transported from As-bearing minerals (arsenian pyrite, arsenopyrite, lollingite, orpiment, arsenic oxide and others), via sulphide oxidation or carbonation reactions into multiple generations of secondary minerals (goethite, hematite, jarosite, natrojarosite and others). Lead isotopic compositions of the sulphides and secondary minerals determined by thermal ionization mass spectrometry (n=53) range widely. Lead and As contents of the sulphides and secondary minerals overlap, and are generally positively correlated. Pyrite, the dominant sulphide in sulphidic schists associated with As-enriched groundwater in Coastal Maine, has values of 206Pb/204Pb from 18.186 to 18.391, 207Pb/204Pb from 15.617 to 15.657, 208Pb/204Pb from 38.052 to 38.210, 206Pb/207Pb from c. 1.1625 to 1.1760 and 208Pb/207Pb from c. 2.4276 to 2.4394. Mixtures of Fe-hydroxide and oxide minerals (predominantly goethite and hematite) and secondary Fe-sulphate minerals (jarosite, natrojarosite, rozenite and melanterite) in the sulphidic schists have overlapping but generally higher values of 206Pb/204Pb from 18.495 to 19.747 (one sample at 21.495), 207Pb/204Pb from 15.595 to 15.722 (one sample at 15.839), 208Pb/204Pb from 38.186 to 39.162, 206Pb/207Pb from c.1.1860 to 1.2575 (one sample at 1.3855) and 208Pb/207Pb from c. 2.4441 to 2.4865 than the sulphides. Sulphides from Zn-Pb metal mines are somewhat less radiogenic than sulphides from the schists. Other sulphides (mostly pyrite) associated with pegmatites and granitic rocks are heterogeneous and more radiogenic than the pyrite-rich sulphidic schists. Sulphides from other regional bedrock units also have heterogeneous isotope values. Lead isotopic compositions of the sulphides from the sulphidic schists and coexisting Fe-oxides and Fe-sulphates produced by weathering and alteration overlap, but the secondary minerals extend toward more radiogenic values that broadly indicate the addition of Pb from anthropogenic origin. As a component of Pb from extensively used arsenical pesticides may also be present in the secondary minerals, the range in Pb isotope values is consistent with multiple sources: natural Pb from the schists and anthropogenic Pb (industrial and possibly from agricultural activities). Contributions from past mining activities or from other bedrock sources are not implicated.
- © 2008 AAG/The Geological Society of London