Geochemical Mapping of Urban Areas

Johnson, Chris. 2007 Geochemical Mapping of Urban Areas. [Keynote] In: Urban Environmental Contamination and Health under the Microscope: The Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, USA, 22-25 July 2007. (Unpublished)

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Geochemical mapping has its origins in the 1950s as a technique for mineral exploration. These early surveys deliberately avoided urban centers because there was little likelihood of developing mineral prospects in densely populated areas and human activities generally caused unwanted anomalies that were a distraction from naturally occurring mineralization. In recent decades, as concerns for human health in relation to urban contamination have grown, and associated legislation has been introduced, there is now a much greater demand for baseline geochemical data in urban areas. The systematic collection of urban samples and the geochemical data derived from them provides environmentalists with essential background data and information about the chemical environment of densely populated centers. The modifications made to the environment due to anthropogenic activity can be put into the context of the natural geochemical baseline. Levels of diffuse pollution can be estimated and for legislative purposes contaminated land can be identified for remediation. Samples can also be used in further studies to investigate pathways for toxic elements and their uptake by receptors. Whilst there are many similarities in the methodologies used for regional and urban geochemical mapping there are adaptations that must be made when sampling urban areas. These include health and safety protocols for the sampling teams, more detailed land use classification, additional sample media and greater caution with regard to the way results are presented.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Keynote)
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Chemical and Biological Hazards
Additional Keywords: geochemistry, urban, baseline
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Earth Sciences
Date made live: 27 Sep 2007 12:14 +0 (UTC)

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