- © 2014 Mineralogical Society of America
Synchrotron-based X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is an in situ, minimally-destructive, element-specific, molecular-scale structural probe that has been employed to study the chemical forms (species) of arsenic (As) in solid and aqueous phases (including rocks, soils, sediment, synthetic compounds, and numerous types of biota including humans) for more than 20 years. Although several excellent reviews of As geochemistry and As speciation in the environment have been published previously (including recent contributions in this volume), the explosion of As-XAS studies over the past decade (especially studies employing microfocused X-ray beams) warrants this new review of the literature and of data analysis methods.
This review has two main sections. The first is a presentation of methods for sample preparation and for the collection, processing and analysis of As-XAS spectra. Since several more comprehensive reviews of the X-ray absorption theory and data collection methodology exist, this section is brief and focused specifically on As. The second section is a critical review of the As-XAS literature, arranged by sample type and accompanied by summary tables (collected as appendices at the end of the chapter).
One of the most important aims of this review is to clarify the different types of analysis that are performed on As-XAS spectra, and to describe the benefits, drawbacks, and limitations of each. Arsenic XAS spectra are analyzed to obtain one or more of the following types of information (in increasing order of sophistication):
Identification of oxidation state (+ quantification of relative abundance, if multiple oxidation states are present)
Selection of the appropriate number and type of model compound As-XAS spectra to use in speciation fits (see 3);
Quantification of the relative abundance of species in a multi-species sample;
Identification of the molecular-scale (~ 4–7 Å) attributes of the predominant (one or two) As species.
The type of As-XAS spectral …