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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Heavy Metals in the Environment

Copper and Calcium Transport through an Unsaturated Soil Column


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 3, p. 927-933
    Received: May 12, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): ivogeler@hortresearch.co.nz
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  1. Iris Vogeler *
  1. Environment and Risk Management Group, Hort Research, Private Bag 11-030, Palmerston North, New Zealand


To determine the relative importance of the physical and chemical factors that influence the movement of heavy metals through soils, leaching experiments were carried out under conditions of constant molarity during unsaturated steady-state water flow through a Manawatu fine sandy loam (a Dystric Fluventic Eutochrept). The movement and exchange of copper was studied in a binary Cu–Ca system. The movement of the associated anions, namely chloride and sulfate, was also monitored. The measurements were compared with predictions from the convection–dispersion equation (CDE), linked with cation exchange theory. The agreement between the measured and predicted breakthrough of sulfate and copper was good. This indicates that copper retardation in the Manawatu soil is closely related to the cation exchange capacity, and that exchange between Ca and Cu is the main process of Cu retardation in the Manawatu soil. However, copper appeared slightly later in the effluent than predicted, indicating that non-exchange processes are also involved in copper transport. Measurements of suction cups could also be used to obtain the parameters for the CDE to describe sulfate movement through the soil. Time domain reflectometry (TDR) measurements of the bulk-soil electrical conductivity could be used to monitor the movement of both sulfate and copper. This indicates that TDR can also be used to monitor cation transport and exchange through the soil, provided the percolating solution causes a sufficient change in the electrical conductivity.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:927–933.