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Trace elements contamination of agricultural soils affected by sulphide exploitation (Iberian Pyrite Belt, Sw Spain)



Trace elements contamination of agricultural soils affected by sulphide exploitation (Iberian Pyrite Belt, Sw Spain)



Environmental Geology 54(4): 805-818



Agricultural soils of the Riotinto mining area (Iberian Pyrite Belt) have been studied to assess the degree of pollution by trace elements as a consequence of the extraction and treatment of sulphides. Fifteen soil samples were collected and analysed by ICP-OES and INAA for 51 elements. Chemical analyses showed an As-Cu-Pb-Zn association related with the mineralisation of the Iberian Pyrite Belt. Concentrations were 19-994 mg kg(-1) for As, 41-4,890 mg kg(-1) for Pb, 95-897 mg kg(-1) for Zn and of 27-1,160 mg kg(-1) for Cu. Most of the samples displayed concentrations of these elements higher than the 90th percentile of the corresponding geological dominium, which suggests an anthropogenic input besides the bedrock influence. Samples collected from sediments were more contaminated than leptosols because they were polluted by leachates or by mining spills coming from the waste rock piles. The weathering of the bedrock is responsible for high concentrations in Co, Cr and Ni, but an anthropogenic input, such as wind-blown dust, seems to be indicative of the high content of As, Cu, Pb and Zn in leptosols. The metal partitioning patterns show that most trace elements are associated with Fe amorphous oxy-hydroxides, or take part of the residual fraction. According to the results obtained, the following mobility sequence is proposed for major and minor elements: Mn, Pb, Cd, > Zn, Cu > Ni > As > Fe > Cr. The high mobility of Pb, Cu and Zn involve an environmental risk in this area, even in soils where the concentrations are not so high.

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Accession: 022022207

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DOI: 10.1007/s00254-007-0864-x


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