Transfer processes of potentially toxic metals (PTMs) between rock-soil systems and soil risk evaluation in the Baoshan area, Yunnan province, Southwest China

Li Zhang, Jennifer McKinley, Mark Cooper, Wei Han, Fei Lui, Yuntao Song, Min Peng, Xiujin Liu, Wei Yang, Hangxin Cheng

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Abstract

Geochemical fluxes in rock-soil systems are important processes in the evaluation of soil environmental risk, especially where the geological background (parent materials) are enriched in potential toxic elements (PTE). In the Baoshan area, the presence of mineral resources along with carbonate and basalt parent materials often leads to PTE being elevated in soils. In this study, we compared rock and soil geochemical compositions by collecting rock samples from the host formations and ore samples from two mineral deposits (Cu-Pb-Zn and Fe-Cu-Pb-Zn) and their overlying soils. This research demonstrates enrichment of PTE (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn) in soils relative to their parent materials. The enrichment in soils may be due to the removal of mobile elements (e.g., Ca, Na, Mg, and Sr), and coprecipitation (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn) and/or adsorption by Fe-oxy-hydroxides (Cr and Ni) under the influence of high pH values during soil formation. The results point to a parent lithological origin and natural enrichment of PTE in Baoshan soils. However, anthropogenic contamination of soils near mining areas is also possible. Soils forming from carbonate rocks, basalts, and especially from mineralized formations have higher PTE concentrations, and in places, levels can exceed the risk screening values for soil contamination of agricultural land of China. Where the latter is the case, it is suggested that ecological monitoring be implemented in the study area. The conventional use of the geo-accumulation index (Igeo) and enrichment factor (EF) methods is challenged in this research and found to underestimate the PTE contamination. A compositional data analysis approach (using clr biplots) is presented which shows that comparison with regional-scale background datasets is essential to provide a more informative approach to evaluate the risk of soil contamination, especially in regions with elevated levels of PTE in parent materials.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Early online date09 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 09 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Potentially toxic metals (PTMs);
  • Rock-soil systems; Geochemical fluxes; Geo-accumulation index (Igeo); Enrichment factor (EF); Southwest China
  • Geochemical fluxes;
  • Geo-accumulation index (Igeo);
  • Enrichment factor (EF); Southwest China

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