Factors Controlling the Spatial Variability of Mercury Distribution in Spanish Topsoil uri icon

abstract

  • This study characterized the sources and scales of mercury variability in agricultural soils of the river Ebro (9.5 million ha) using geostatistical methods and data from 624 samples. The Ebro basin (20% of Spanish land mass) is an important agricultural area that is industrialized. Spatial analysis was done on a local scale ( 20 km) and indicated that high Hg concentrations were related to mining and specific agronomic practices, such as sewage effluents from irrigation. The intermediate scale ( 100 km) was associated with mercury from atmospheric deposition ( mining, smelting, and industrial activities). The regional scale ( 220 km) corresponded to mineralogical structure and bedrock influence. The analysis demostrates that while geographical and geochemical processes and anthropogenic influences, such as industrialization and agricultural practices, can influence the content and distribution of mercury in the valley, the calcareous nature of the soils (alkaline pH and low organic matter) minimize the effect of the mercury load.

publication date

  • 2009
  • 2009