Temperature-induced impacts on groundwater quality and arsenic mobility in anoxic aquifer sediments used for both drinking water and shallow geothermal energy production

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Aquifers used for the production of drinking water are increasingly being used for the generation of shallow geothermal energy. This causes temperature perturbations far beyond the natural variations in aquifers and the effects of these temperature variations on groundwater quality, in particular trace elements, have not been investigated. Here, we report the results of column experiments to assess the impacts of temperature variations (5°C, 11°C, 25°C and 60°C) on groundwater quality in anoxic reactive unconsolidated sandy sediments derived from an aquifer system widely used for drinking water production in the Netherlands. Our results showed that at 5 °C no effects on water quality were observed compared to the reference of 11°C (in situ temperature). At 25°C, As concentrations were significantly increased and at 60 °C, significant increases were observed pH and DOC, P, K, Si, As, Mo, V, B, and F concentrations. These elements should therefore be considered for water quality monitoring programs of shallow geothermal energy projects. No consistent temperature effects were observed on Na, Ca, Mg, Sr, Fe, Mn, Al, Ba, Co, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn, Eu, Ho, Sb, Sc, Yb, Ga, La, and Th concentrations, all of which were present in the sediment. The temperature-induced chemical effects were probably caused by (incongruent) dissolution of silicate minerals (K and Si), desorption from, and potentially reductive dissolution of, iron oxides (As, B, Mo, V, and possibly P and DOC), and mineralisation of sedimentary organic matter (DOC and P).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5088-5100
JournalWater Research
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Shallow geothermal energy
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Aquifer thermal energy storage
  • Groundwater quality
  • Arsenic
  • Trace elements
  • Desorption

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