Alluvial and gypsum karst geological transition favors spreading arsenic contamination in Matehuala, Mexico

Andrea Gómez-Hernández, Rodrigo Merced Rodríguez, Antonio Lara Del Río, Esther Aurora Ruiz-Huerta, María Aurora Armienta, Pablo Dávila-Harris, Bhaskar Sen-Gupta, Omar Delgado-Rodríguez, Andrés Del Angel Ríos, Nadia Martínez-Villegas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Arsenic transport in alluvial aquifers is usually constrained due to arsenic adsorption on iron oxides. In karstic aquifers, however, arsenic contamination may spread to further extensions mainly due to favorable hydrogeochemical conditions. In this study, we i) determined the spatial and temporal behavior of arsenic in water in an alluvial-karstic geological setting using field and literature data, ii) established whether a contaminated aquifer exists using field and literature piezometric data and geophysical analysis, iii) studied the local geology and associated arsenic contaminated water sources to specific aquifers, iv) revealed and modeled subsoil stratigraphy, and v) established the extent of arsenic exposure to the population. We found arsenic contamination (up to 91.51 mg/l) in surface and shallow groundwater (<15 m), where water flows from west to east through a shallow aquifer, paleochannels and a qanat within an alluvial-karst transition that favors the spreading and transport of arsenic along 8 km as well as the increase of arsenic exposure to the population (up to 3.6 mgAs/kghair). Results from this study contribute to understanding arsenic transport in semi-arid, mining-metallurgical, and urban environments, where the presence of karst could favor arsenic transport to remote places and exacerbate arsenic exposure and impact in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135340
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date23 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2020


  • Arsenic transport
  • Exposure
  • Groundwater
  • Risk
  • Semiarid environment
  • Surface water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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