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Distribution of 32 Elements in Organic Surface Soils: Contributions from Atmospheric Transport of Pollutants and Natural Sources


Data are presented for 32 elements (Li, Be, B, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ge, As, Rb, Sr, Y, Zr, Mo, Ag, Cd, Sb, Cs, Ba, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Hf, Tl, Pb, Bi) in organic-rich surface soils in Norway, based on samples from 464 sites. By considering geographical distributions based on isopleths, results from factor analysis, and ANOVA of median values from 12 different geographical regions, the contributions from natural and anthropogenic sources are estimated for each element. Long-range atmospheric transport of pollutants from areas out of Norway is a dominant source for Cd, Sb, Pb, and Bi and also a strongly contributing factor for Zn, As, Mo, and Tl. Also V, Ni, Cu, and Ge are somewhat affected, but other factors dominate for these elements. Local point sources of pollution provide significant contributions to soil concentrations of Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Mo, and Cd. The local bedrock is the overriding source of Li, Be, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Rb, Zr, Cs, Ba, REE, Hf, and probably of Ge and Ag. Surface enrichment by root uptake in plants and return to the soil surface by decaying plant material is particularly evident for Mn, Zn, Rb, Cs, and Ba. These elements show no clear difference between south and north in the country, indicating that their plant uptake does not depend on latitude. In the case of B and Sr, atmospheric deposition of marine aerosols is an important source. Rb and Ag, and to a less extent Mn, Ga, and Ba, appear to be depleted in soils near the coast presumably due to cation exchange with airborne marine cations.

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Correspondence to Eiliv Steinnes.

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Nygård, T., Steinnes, E. & Røyset, O. Distribution of 32 Elements in Organic Surface Soils: Contributions from Atmospheric Transport of Pollutants and Natural Sources. Water Air Soil Pollut 223, 699–713 (2012).

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  • Natural surface soils
  • Trace elements
  • Air pollution
  • Natural sources