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This Chapman Conference is intended to review a decade of Earth science research on the mechanism(s) of arsenic mobilization in groundwater of southern Asia, identify those areas where a consensus has emerged and, in the case of several important open questions that remain, determine what types of experiments or studies are needed.

Date: 24.03.2009 - 27.03.2009
National/International: International
Language: English
Type: Conference
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Conference web site at:   http:⁄⁄www.agu.org⁄meetings⁄chapman⁄2008⁄jcall⁄

Session Topics

Underlying (Bio)Geochemical Processes

  • What is the relative timing of release of As and Fe?
  • What are the biogeochemical processes responsible for arsenic (and iron) release?
  • How important are potential back-reactions – e.g. arsenic adsorption?
  • What fuels the biogeochemical process – e.g., plant- vs. animal-derived, or recent vs. ancient, organic matter?
  • Are there critical nutrients limiting release of arsenic, and is there a source of these nutrients in arsenic hotspots?
  • Can a detailed understanding of microbial populations help with understanding the distribution of As in groundwater?

Role of Hydrogeology and Transport

  • How are groundwater arsenic concentrations affected by surface conditions – e.g. clay or sand soils; agriculture, villages, ponds or rivers?
  • Is arsenic mobilized at a greater rate from certain types of sediments?
  • Has the development of paddy fields significantly influenced the pattern of arsenic concentrations in groundwater?
  • What will be the consequences of prolonged irrigation of rice paddies with groundwater elevated in arsenic?

Vulnerability of Low-Arsenic Aquifers – Policy Implications

  • Is the age of a well since installation relevant and if so, how?
  • How do arsenic concentrations respond to changes in recharge from village construction, pond construction, shifting agricultural practices?
  • Does the release of organic carbon from latrines lead to arsenic enrichments in groundwater?
  • How do arsenic concentrations vary with concentrations of other potentially harmful solutes, such as manganese and heavy metals?
  • What simple/cheap observations might aid the targeting of low arsenic aquifers?
  • Can biogeochemical processes be harnessed to remove arsenic from groundwater in situ and ex situ?
  • Do we know enough about the biogeochemistry/microbial ecology of deep wells, and how they will respond to prolonged pumping?

Consensus(?) and Critical Experiments

  • What are the similarities and differences between Himalaya catchments where arsenic is found (or not found) in groundwater in terms of spatial patterns, organic carbon sources, and land-use practices?
  • Are there commonalities between the mechanisms of arsenic release in inland and coastal aquifers?
  • Are laboratory studies to identify arsenic-mobilizing microorganisms and the functional genes that they carry useful?
  • Can laboratory experiments help us understand processes in situ and inform mitigation strategies?
  • Could hydrogeologic methods widely applied in the West to groundwater contamination problems (3D flow and transport modeling, 3D networks of pressure transducers, field-scale tracer tests...) be applied to understand arsenic contamination in poor countries?
  • Why have these methods been applied so sparingly?
  • What should we as a research community do collectively to project future groundwater levels of arsenic and evaluate long-term solutions?


November 21,2008Submission of abstracts

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