About Us | Help Videos | Contact Us | Subscriptions

Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Heavy Metals in the Environment

Temperature and Microbial Activity Effects on Trace Element Leaching from Metalliferous Peats


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 6, p. 2067-2075
    Received: July 8, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): bkr2@cornell.edu
Request Permissions

  1. Shabnam Qureshia,
  2. Brian K. Richards *a,
  3. Murray B. McBrideb,
  4. Philippe Baveyeb and
  5. Tammo S. Steenhuisa
  1. a Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Riley-Robb Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
    b Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Bradfield Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853


Due to geochemical processes, peat soils often have elevated concentrations of trace elements, which are gradually released following drainage for agriculture. Our objectives were to use incubation temperatures to vary microbial activity in two metalliferous peats (M7 acidic peat and M3 neutral peat) from the Elba, New York region, and to use periodic leaching to assess the extent of trace element release from these soils. Dried soils were mixed with glass beads to maintain aeration, moistened, and incubated at 4, 16, 28, and 37°C in 10-cm-diameter × 8-cm-tall columns. Five incubation–leaching cycles were performed, each consisting of 7.3 d of incubation (28 d for the final cycle) followed by 16 h of leaching with synthetic acid rain at 2.5 mm h−1 Microbial activity was determined initially and after the final leaching by measuring C mineralization following glucose stimulation. Cumulative respiration results were ranked 28 > 16 > 4 > 37°C, with M7 acidic peat respiration values greater than M3 neutral peat at each temperature. Initial leachate pH levels were between 2 and 4, with acidification less pronounced and shorter-lived for the M3 peat. Leachate S, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), NO3–N, and trace elements declined with successive leachings (rebounding slightly in the final M3 leachate), with concentrations typically greater in the M7 leachate. Elemental losses followed the same general ranking (28 > 16 > 4 > 37°C); losses at 28°C were 15 to 22% for As, Cd, Ni, and Zn from the M7 peat; losses from M3 were comparable only for Cu (1%) and Ni (19%). The correlation of respiration with S, DOC, and trace elements losses indicates that microbial processes mediated the release of trace elements in both peat soils. Neutral M3 peat pH levels limited losses of most analytes.

  Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.

Copyright © 2003. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA