Skip to main content Accessibility help

The mineralogy of efflorescence on As calciner buildings in SW England

  • M. R. Power (a1), D. Pirrie (a2), G. S. Camm (a3) and J. C. Ø. Andersen (a3)


Arsenic is a very common by-product of the processing of Cu, Au and polymetallic ores worldwide, where the ore is roasted (calcined) to remove volatile elements. In southwest England, a diverse range of As-mineral species occur as efflorescent secondary mineral growths on historic calciner buildings. Gypsum occurs as abundant dendritic growths comprising either interlocking blades or tabular crystals. Ca-arsenate minerals are locally very abundant as white colloform masses. Positively identified Ca arsenates include pharmacolite, weilite and haidingerite. Other secondary minerals include arsenolite, scorodite, bukovskyite and an As-bearing potassium alum, together with a wide variety of unidentified minerals, including an Al-As-S phase and As-rich F-bearing phases. Gypsum contains As concentrations up to ~7 wt.%. Efflorescent growth at sites exposed to the prevailing weather systems is less abundant than at sheltered sites. This is interpreted as being due to ‘pressure washing’ of exposed sites by driving rain. Successive concentric growths of gypsum and Ca arsenate on masonry are interpreted as being the result of seasonal crystallization.

Understanding both current and historicalmining and mineralprocessing methods is criticalin the evaluation of the potential impact on the modern environment. In particular, due to the abundance of As-bearing minerals in a wide range of ore types, many buildings worldwide are potentially significantly contaminated with As even though few are directly related to As production or handling. Characterizing the secondary As mineralspecies present at mine and mineralprocessing sites is critical in understanding the potentialheal th risk these sites might pose.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Ashley, P.M. and Lettermoser, B.G. (1999) Arsenic contamination at the Mole River mine, northern New South Wales. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 46, 861974.
Barton, D.B. (1970) Essays in Cornish Mining, Volume Two. D. Bradford Barton Ltd, Truro, UK. BIA (1985a) Technical notes 23 - Efflorescence, causes and mechanisms, part 1. Brick Industry Association, Virginia, USA.
BIA (1985b) Technical notes 23A - Efflorescence, causes and mechanisms, part 2. Brick Industry Association, Virginia, USA.
BSI (1992) BS 8104: Code of practice for assessing exposure of walls to wind-driven rain. British Standards Institute, UK.
Camm, G.S., Butcher, A.R., Pirrie, D., Hughes, P.K. and Glass, H.J. (2003a) Secondary mineral phases associated with a historic arsenic calciner identified using automated scanning electron microscopy; a pilot study from Cornwall, UK. Minerals Engineering, 16, 12691277.
Camm, G.S., Powell, N., Glass, H.J., Cressey, G. and Kirk, C. (2003b) Soil geochemical signature of a calciner site, Cornwall, SW England. Applied Earth Science, 112, 268278.
Camm, G.S., Glass, H.J., Bryce, D.W. and Butcher, A.R. (2004) Characterisation of a mining related arsenic-contaminated site, Cornwall, UK. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 82, 115.
Crowson, P. (1998) Minerals Handbook 1998–1999 Statistics and Analyses of the World's Minerals Industry. Mining Journal Books, London, 438 pp.
Dalewski, F. (1999) Removing arsenic from copper smelter gases. Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, 51, 2426.
Earl, P.J. (1983) Arsenic winning and refining methods in the west of England. Journal of the Trevithick Society, 10, 929.
Gerrard, S. (2000) The Early British Tin Industry. Tempus Publishing, Stroud, UK.
Hamilton, E.I. (2000) Environmental variables in a holistic evaluation of land contaminated by arsenic mine wastes: a study of multi-element mine wastes in West Devon, England using arsenic as an element of potential concern to human health. The Science of the Total Environment, 249, 171—221.
Juillot, F., Ildefonse, Ph., Morin, G., Calas, G., de Kersabiec, A.M. and Benedetti, M. (1999) Remobilization of arsenic from buried wastes at an industrial site: mineralogical and geochemical control. Applied Geochemistry, 14, 1031—1048.
Lehmann, M.N., O’Leary, S.O. and Dunn, J.G. (2000) An evaluation of pretreatments to increase gold recovery from a refractory ore containing arsenopyr- ite and pyrrhotite. Minerals Engineering, 13, 1—18.
Magalhaes, M.C.F. (2002) Arsenic. An environmental problem limited by solubility. Pure Applied Chemistry, 74, 1843—1850.
Mains, D. and Craw, D. (2005) Composition and mineralogy of historic gold processing residues, east Otago, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 48, 641—647.
Pirrie, D., Butcher, A.R., Power, M.R., Gottlieb, P. and Miller, G.L. (2004) Rapid quantitative mineral and phase analysis using automated scanning electron microscopy (QemSCAN); potential applications in forensic geoscience. Pp. 123—136 in: Forensic Geoscience: Principles, Techniques and Applications(K. Pye and D.J. Croft, editors). Special Publications, 232, The Geological Society, London.
Pirrie, D., Power, M.R., Rollinson, G.K., Wiltshire, P.E.J., Newberry, J. and Campbell, H.E. (2009) Automated SEM-EDS (QEMSCAN) mineral analysis in forensic soil investigations; testing instrumental variability. Pp. 411—430 in: Criminal and Environmental Soil Forensics(Ritz, K., Dawson, L. and Miller, D., editors). Springer, Heidelberg, Berlin.
Potts, P.J., Ramsey, M.H. and Carlisle, J. (2002) Portable X-ray fluorescence in the characterisation of arsenic contamination associated with industrial buildings at a heritage arsenic works site near Redruth, Cornwall, UK. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 4, 1017—1024.
Prior, M. (1985) Directional driving rain indices for the United Kingdom - computation and mapping: background to BSI Draft for Development DD93. Technical report, Building Research Establishment, Garston, UK.
Roman-Ross, G., Charlet, L., Cuello, G.J. and Tisserand, D. (2003) Arsenic removal by gypsum and calcite in lacustrine environments. Journal de Physique IV, 107, 1153—1156.
Scott, P.W., Reid, K.S., Shail, R.K. and Scrivener, R.C. (2002) Baseline geochemistry of Devonian low- grade metasedimentary rocks in Cornwall: preliminary data and environmental significance. Geoscience in southwest England, 10, 424—429.
Swash, P.M. and Monhemius, A.J. (1995) The disposal of arsenical wastes: technologies and environmental considerations. Pp. 121—125 in: International Minerals and Metals Technology(N.J. Roberts, editor). Sabrecrown Publishing, London.
Walker, S.R., Jamieson, H.E., Lanzirotti, A., Andrade, C.F. and Hall, G.E.M. (2005) The speciation of arsenic in iron oxides in mine wastes from the Giant goldmine, N.W.T.: application of synchrotron micro-XRD and micro-XANES at the grain scale. The Canadian Mineralogist, 43, 1205—1224.


The mineralogy of efflorescence on As calciner buildings in SW England

  • M. R. Power (a1), D. Pirrie (a2), G. S. Camm (a3) and J. C. Ø. Andersen (a3)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed