Variation in soil chemistry related to different classes and eras of urbanisation in the London area

Appleton, J.D.; Cave, M.R.. 2018 Variation in soil chemistry related to different classes and eras of urbanisation in the London area. Applied Geochemistry, 90. 13-24.

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Systematic mapping of the chemical environment of urban areas from around the world has demonstrated the strong impact of urbanisation on topsoil geochemical distributions originally controlled by the underlying parent material (PM). The variance of some elements including As, Ba, Ca, Cr, Cu, Mo, P, Pb, Sb, Se, Sn and Zn in urban domains appears to be impacted by a mixture of geogenic and anthropogenic controls. This study evaluates how soil chemistry has been influenced by different eras of urbanisation within London and other UK urban areas using (a) the pre-1940 Dudley Stamp First Land Utilisation Survey data and (b) the modern urban domain principally defined by the aggregate classes of the 2007 Land Cover Map. In the London area, calcium, and possibly a substantial proportion of Cu, Pb, Sn and Zn enrichment observed in soils impacted by pre-1940 urbanisation relative to soils impacted only by post-1940 urbanisation, may be partly related to the destruction of buildings during the period 1940–1941 rather than from the disposal or aerial dispersion of coal ash from domestic fires. Some Pb, Cu, Sb, Sb, Sn and Zn contamination appears to be caused by road traffic (leaded petrol and brake dust). The relationships between pre- and post-1940 urbanised areas in London also characterise most of 20 other urban centres in England and Wales for which BGS holds soil chemistry data.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 08832927
Date made live: 22 Jan 2018 14:40 +0 (UTC)

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