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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Heavy Metals in the Environment

Major and Trace Elements of Selected Pedons in the USA


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 6, p. 2109-2121
    Received: Feb 4, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): rebecca.burt@nssc.nrcs.usda.gov
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  1. R. Burt *,
  2. M. A. Wilson,
  3. M. D. Mays and
  4. C. W. Lee
  1. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil Survey Laboratory, 100 Centennial Mall North, Room 152, Mail Stop 41, Lincoln, NE 68508-3866


Few studies of soil geochemistry over large geographic areas exist, especially studies encompassing data from major pedogenic horizons that evaluate both native concentrations of elements and anthropogenically contaminated soils. In this study, pedons (n = 486) were analyzed for trace (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn) and major (Al, Ca, Fe, K, Mg, Na, P, Si, Ti, Zr) elements, as well as other soil properties. The objectives were to (i) determine the concentration range of selected elements in a variety of U.S. soils with and without known anthropogenic additions, (ii) illustrate the association of elemental source and content by assessing trace elemental content for several selected pedons, and (iii) evaluate relationships among and between elements and other soil properties. Trace element concentrations in the non-anthropogenic dataset (NAD) were in the order Mn > (Zn, Cr, Ni, Cu) > (Pb, Co) > (Cd, Hg), with greatest mean total concentrations for the Andisol order. Geometric means by horizon indicate that trace elements are concentrated in surface and/or B horizons over C horizons. Median values for trace elements are significantly higher in surface horizons of the anthropogenic dataset (AD) over the NAD. Total Al, Fe, cation exchange capacity (CEC), organic C, pH, and clay exhibit significant correlations (0.56, 0.74, 0.50, 0.31, 0.16, and 0.30, respectively) with total trace element concentrations of all horizons of the NAD. Manganese shows the best inter-element correlation (0.33) with these associated total concentrations. Total Fe has one of the strongest relationships, explaining 55 and 30% of the variation in total trace element concentrations for all horizons in the NAD and AD, respectively.

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