Towards magnetometric characterization of soil pollution with rare-earth elements in industrial areas of Upper Silesian Industrial Area, Southern Poland

Piotr Fabijańczyk, Jarosław Zawadzki, Tadeusz Magiera

The paper presents systematic study concentrations of selected rare-earth elements, namely La and Ce in soils of highly industrialized regions using geochemical and magnetometric measurements as well as geostatistical methods. Soil magnetometry was used to determine if the concentrations of La and Ce in soil could be a result of anthropogenic pollution or natural soil properties. Results of analyses revealed that the highest concentrations of La and Ce were observed near a waste heap of the plant producing and processing batteries, and in the region of the Jizera Mountains, natural REE-rich minerals are very common. It was also found that the lowest concentrations of La and Ce in soil were observed in forested areas of where the dominant type of pollution sources was associated with the metallurgical industry. Distributions of magnetic susceptibility in soil profiles collected in areas with predominant industrial influence showed visible peak in topsoil, what confirmed anthropogenic origin of La and Ce in soil. In areas where large volumes of wastes were deposited in past, industrial activity, vertical distributions of soil magnetic susceptibility showed also secondary, strong peak in subsoil. Thus, the results reveal that magnetometric measurements in soil profile might be useful as supplementary method for analyzing of concentrations of rare-earth elements. Contrary, magnetometric measurements performed on the soil surface were poorly correlated with a concentration of La and Ce in soil, because they have weaker magnetic properties than typical fly ashes emitted by industry.

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