Chemical partitioning of trace and major elements in soils contaminated by mining and smelting activities

Xiangdong Li, Iain Thornton

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

312 Citations (Scopus)


Soils from historical Pb mining and smelting areas in Derbyshire, England have been analysed by a 5-step sequential extraction procedure, with multielement determination on extraction solutions at each step by ICP-AES. Each of the chemical fractions is operationally defined as: (i) exchangeable; (ii) bound to carbonates or specifically adsorbed; (iii) bound to Fe-Mn oxides; (iv) bound to organic matter and sulphides; (v) residual. The precision was estimated to be about 5%, and the overall recovery rates were between 85 and 110%. The carbonate/specifically adsorbed and Fe-Mn oxide phases are the largest fractions for Pb in soils contaminated by both mining and smelting. Most of the Zn is associated with Fe-Mn oxide and the residual fractions. Cadmium is concentrated in the first 3 extraction steps, particularly in the exchangeable phase. The most marked difference found between soils from the mining and smelting sites is the much higher concentrations and proportions of metals in the exchangeable fraction at the latter sites. This indicates greater mobility and potential bioavailability of Pb, Zn and Cd in soils at the smelting sites than in those in the mining area. The most important fraction for Fe and Al is the residual phase, followed by the Fe-Mn oxide forms. In contrast, the Fe-Mn oxide fraction is the dominant phase for Mn in these soils. In the mining area, most of the Ca is in the carbonate fraction (CaCO3), while the exchangeable and residual phases are the main fractions for Ca at the smelting sites. Phosphorus is mainly in the residual and organic fractions in both areas. The exchangeable fractions of Pb, Zn and Cd in soils were found to be significantly related to the concentrations of these metals in pasture herbage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1693-1706
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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