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National-scale estimation of potentially harmful element ambient background concentrations in topsoil using parent material classified soil : stream-sediment relationships

Appleton, Don; Rawlins, Barry; Thornton, Ian. 2008 National-scale estimation of potentially harmful element ambient background concentrations in topsoil using parent material classified soil : stream-sediment relationships. Applied Geochemistry, 23 (9). 2596-2611. 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2008.05.010

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Abstract/Summary

Regulatory authorities require estimates of ambient background concentrations (ABCs) of potentially harmful elements (PHEs) in topsoil; such data are currently not available in many countries. High resolution soil geochemical data exist for only part of England and Wales, whilst stream sediment data cover the entire landscape. A novel methodology is presented for estimating soil equivalent ABCs for PHEs from high-resolution (HR) stream sediment geochemical data grouped by common parent materials (PM), using arsenic (As) as an example. Geometric mean (GM) values for local PM groups are used to investigate different approaches for transforming sediment to soil equivalent concentrations. Holdout validation is used to assess: (i) the optimum number of samples for calculating local GM values, and (ii) the optimum scale at which to group data when using linear regression analysis to estimate GM soil ABCs from local sediment geochemical values. Holdout validation showed that the smallest differences were generally observed when five observations were used to calculate the GM and that these should be grouped over the smallest possible area in order to encompass soils over PMs with elevated GM As concentrations. Geometric mean ABCs are estimated and mapped for As in mineral soil across all of England and Wales within delineations of PM polygons. Errors for the estimation of soil equivalent GM As ABCs based on sediment data for an independent validation set were of a similar magnitude to those from holdout validation applied to the original data suggesting the approach is robust. The estimates of soil equivalent ABCs suggest that As exceeds the regulatory threshold used in risk assessments for residential land use (20 mg kg1) across 16% of the landscape of England and Wales. The applicability of the method for cognate landscapes, and potential refinements is discussed.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2008.05.010
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Information Products
ISSN: 0883-2927
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Earth Sciences
Date made live: 05 Sep 2008 08:51
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/3985

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