Accelerated dissolution of iron oxides in ice
Iron dissolution from mineral dusts and soil particles is vital as a source of bioavailable iron in various environmental media. In this work, the dissolution of iron oxide particles trapped in ice was investigated as a new pathway of iron supply. The dissolution experiments were carried out in the absence and presence of various organic complexing ligands under dark condition. In acidic pH conditions (pH 2, 3, and 4), the dissolution of iron oxides was greatly enhanced in the ice phase compared to that in water. The dissolved iron was mainly in the ferric form, which indicates that the dissolution is not a reductive process. The extent of dissolved iron was greatly affected by the kind of organic complexing ligands and the surface area of iron oxides. The iron dissolution was most pronounced with high surface area iron oxides and in the presence of strong iron binding ligands. The enhanced dissolution of iron oxides in ice is mainly ascribed to the "freeze concentration effect", which concentrates iron oxide particles, organic ligands, and protons in the liquid like ice grain boundary region and accelerates the dissolution of iron oxides. The ice-enhanced dissolution effect gradually decreased when decreasing the freezing temperature from -10 to -196 °C, which implies that the presence and formation of the liquid-like ice grain boundary region play a critical role. The proposed phenomenon of enhanced dissolution of iron oxides in ice may provide a new pathway of bioavailable iron production. The frozen atmospheric ice with iron-containing dust particles in the upper atmosphere thaws upon descending and may provide bioavailable iron upon deposition onto the ocean surface. © Author(s) 2012.