Surface complexation models are widely used with batch adsorption experiments to characterize and predict surface geochemical processes in porous media. In contrast, the spectral induced polarization (SIP) method has recently been used to non-invasively monitor in situ subsurface chemical reactions in porous media, such as ion adsorption processes on mineral surfaces. Here we compare these tools for investigating surface site density changes during pH-dependent sodium adsorption on a silica gel. Continuous SIP measurements were conducted using a lab scale column packed with silica gel. A constant inflow of 0.05 M NaCl solution was introduced to the column while the influent pH was changed from 7.0 to 10.0 over the course of the experiment. The SIP measurements indicate that the pH change caused a 38.49 ± 0.30 μS cm− 1 increase in the imaginary conductivity of the silica gel. This increase is thought to result from deprotonation of silanol groups on the silica gel surface caused by the rise in pH, followed by sorption of Na+ cations. Fitting the SIP data using the mechanistic model of Leroy et al. (Leroyet al., 2008), which is based on the triple layer model of a mineral surface, we estimated an increase in the silica gel surface site density of 26.9 × 1016 sites m− 2. We independently used a potentiometric acid–base titration data for the silica gel to calibrate the triple layer model using the software FITEQL and observed a total increase in the surface site density for sodium sorption of 11.2 × 1016 sites m− 2, which is approximately 2.4 times smaller than the value estimated using the SIP model. By simulating the SIP response based on the calibrated surface complexation model, we found a moderate association between the measured and estimated imaginary conductivity (R2 = 0.65). These results suggest that the surface complexation model used here does not capture all mechanisms contributing to polarization of the silica gel captured by the SIP data.
Hao, N., Moysey, S. M. J., Powell, B. A., & Ntarlagiannis, D. (2016). Comparison of the surface ion density of silica gel evaluated via spectral induced polarization versus acid–base titration. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 135, 427–435. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jappgeo.2016.01.014