Articles | Volume 15, issue 12
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 6959–6969, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-15-6959-2015
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 6959–6969, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-15-6959-2015

Research article 26 Jun 2015

Research article | 26 Jun 2015

Sulfur-containing particles emitted by concealed sulfide ore deposits: an unknown source of sulfur-containing particles in the atmosphere

J. J. Cao1,2, Y. K. Li1, T. Jiang1, and G. Hu1 J. J. Cao et al.
  • 1School of Earth Science and Geological Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • 2Guangdong Key Laboratory of Geological Process and Mineral Resources Exploration, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275, China

Abstract. Sources of sulfur dioxide, sulfates, and organic sulfur compounds, such as fossil fuels, volcanic eruptions, and animal feeding operations, have attracted considerable attention. In this study, we collected particles carried by geogas flows ascending through soil, geogas flows above the soil that had passed through the soil, and geogas flows ascending through deep faults of concealed sulfide ore deposits, and analysed them using transmission electron microscopy. Numerous crystalline and amorphous sulfur-containing particles or particle aggregations were found in the ascending geogas flows. In addition to S, the particles contained O, Ca, K, Mg, Fe, Na, Pb, Hg, Cu, Zn, As, Ti, Sr, Ba, Si, etc. Such particles are usually a few to several hundred nanometres in diameter with either regular or irregular morphology. The sulfur-containing particles originated from deep-seated weathering or faulting products of concealed sulfide ore deposits. The particles suspended in the ascending geogas flow migrated through faults from deep-seated sources to the atmosphere. This is a previously unknown source of the atmospheric particles. This paper reports, for the first time, the emission of sulfur-containing particles into the atmosphere from concealed sulfide ore deposits. The climatic and ecological influences of these sulfur-containing particles and particle aggregations should be assessed.

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We collected particles carried by ascending flows and analysed them using transmission electron microscopy. Numerous sulfur-containing particles or particle aggregations were found in the ascending flows. In addition to S, the particles contained O, Ca, K, Mg, Fe, Na, Pb, Hg, Cu, Zn, As, Ti, Sr, Ba, etc. The sulfur-containing particles originated from deep-seated weathering or faulting products of concealed sulfide ore deposits. This is a previously unknown source of the atmospheric particles.
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