Speciation of polysulfides and zerovalent sulfur in sulfide-rich water wells in Southern and Central Israel

A. Kamyshny, M. Zilberbrand, I. Ekeltchik, T. Voitsekovski, J. Gun, O. Lev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Zerovalent sulfur and inorganic polysulfides were determined in nine sulfide-rich water wells in central and southern Israel. Although the two locations belong to the same aquifer, they are characterized by different pH and hydrogen sulfide levels. Hydrogen sulfide in the central Israel wells ranged between 19 and 32 μM, and the pH was 7.26 ± 0.07. The southern basin is characterized by lower water circulation, lower pH (around 6.8), and higher hydrogen sulfide levels (>470 μM). Polysulfides were determined by a rapid single-phase methylation using methyl trifluoromethanesulfonate (methyl triflate) reagent. The summary polysulfide concentration for S42--S72- species was found to be around 0.14-0.75 μM in the central region of Israel and substantially higher, 2.3-4.6 μM in the southern region. The sum of polysulfide zerovalent sulfur and colloidal sulfur was quantitatively detected by cyanide derivatization and compared to polysulfide sulfur determined by methyl triflate derivatization and to the chloroform extraction of zerovalent sulfur. A method for the determination of sulfur undersaturation level - the ratio between dissolved elemental sulfur and its equilibrium concentration in the presence of solid sulfur - based on the observed levels of the major polysulfide species is described. The observed polysulfide speciation was compared with the predicted speciation under sulfur saturation conditions taking into account the water temperature, its ionic strength, and pH. Criteria for sulfur saturation versus unsaturated conditions were established based on (1) the chain length dependence of the ratio between the observed polysulfide concentrations and their predicted value under sulfur saturated conditions, and (2) the difference between the concentration of zerovalent sulfur, as determined by cyanolysis, and the total polysulfide sulfur. According to this dual criterion five of the water wells were classified as being undersaturated with respect to sulfur, though for all the examined water wells the majority of the zerovalent sulfur was in the form of polysulfide sulfur.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)171-192
Number of pages22
JournalAquatic Geochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The authors are grateful for the financial support of the Water Technology Program of the MOS, Israel, and BMBF, Germany, the financial support by Mekorot Water Company Ltd. A.K. thanks MPG Minerva Post-Doctoral Fellowship for financial support.


  • Derivatization
  • Dimethylpolysulfanes
  • Inorganic polysulfides
  • Methyl trifluoromethanesulfonate
  • Methylation
  • Reduced sulfur compounds
  • Speciation
  • Sulfide


Dive into the research topics of 'Speciation of polysulfides and zerovalent sulfur in sulfide-rich water wells in Southern and Central Israel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this