An improved pyrite pretreatment protocol for kinetic and isotopic studies

Natella Mirzoyan*, Alexey Kamyshny, Itay Halevy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Pyrite is one of the most abundant and widespread of the sulfide minerals with a central role in biogeochemical cycles of iron and sulfur. Due to its diverse roles in the natural and anthropogenic sulfur cycle, pyrite has been extensively studied in various experimental investigations of the kinetics of its dissolution and oxidation, the isotopic fractionations associated with these reactions, the microbiological processes involved, and the effects of pyrite on human health. Elemental sulfur (S0) is a common product of incomplete pyrite oxidation. Preexisting S0 impurities as unaccounted reaction products are a source of experimental uncertainty, as are adhered fine grains of pyrite and its oxidation products. Removal of these impurities is, therefore, desirable.A robust standardized pretreatment protocol for removal of fine particles and oxidation impurities from pyrite is lacking. Here we describe a protocol for S0 and fine particle removal from the surface of pyrite by rinsing in acid followed by repeated ultrasonication with warm acetone.Results: Our data demonstrate the presence of large fractions of S0 on untreated pyrite particle surfaces, of which only up to 60% was removed by a commonly used pretreatment method described by Moses et al. (GCA 51:1561-1571, 1987). In comparison, after pretreatment by the protocol proposed here, approximately 98% S0 removal efficiency was achieved. Additionally, the new procedure was more efficient at removal of fine particles of adhered pyrite and its oxidation products and did not appear to affect the particle size distribution, the specific surface area, or the properties of grain surfaces.Conclusions: The suggested pyrite pretreatment protocol is more efficient in removal of impurities from pyrite grains, and provides multiple advantages for both kinetic and isotopic investigations of pyrite transformations under various environmental conditions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number10
JournalGeochemical Transactions
Issue number1
StatePublished - 12 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Mirzoyan et al.; licensee Chemistry Central Ltd.


  • Elemental sulfur
  • Etch pits
  • Grain morphology
  • Pyrite oxidation
  • Sulfur isotopes


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