Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 67–77 | Cite as

Anthropogenic environmental impact in the Mediterranean coastal area of Koper/Capodistria, Slovenia

  • Nina ZupančičEmail author
  • Simona Skobe



Heavy metal content in soils could be a consequence of geogenic and different anthropogenic sources. In ancient times, soils in the Mediterranean region were affected by agriculture and viticulture, whereas more recently, industry and traffic might contribute more to their pollution. The aim of the study is to determine the extent of multisource heavy metal pollution in soils within the Koper area.

Materials and methods

Along the northern Adriatic Sea coast, around the port city of Koper/Capodistria, 24 topsoil samples were collected; sets of six samples representing four possible pollution sources: intensive agriculture, viticulture, port activities and industry. The parent material of the soil is mainly derived from the Eocene flysch weathered marls and calcarenites and the soil types are eutric. The chemical composition of the samples was determined by ICP-ES for oxides and several minor elements and by ICP-MS for heavy metals. The mineral composition of the selected samples was checked using X-ray powder diffraction. Different statistical analyses were performed on the normally distributed data.

Results and discussion

The mean concentrations of all samples are: Cr 215 mg kg−1, Ni 81 mg kg−1, Zn 67 mg kg−1, Cu 44 mg kg−1 and Pb and Co 18 mg kg−1. The ANOVA showed significant differences only in CaO, C/TOT, P2O5, Co and Pb between those locations within reach of the different contamination sources. The observed average values of heavy metals are well below Slovenia’s Directive limit for Cu, Pb and Zn, close to but not above it for Co and above the action value for Cr and Ni. According to Igeo, soils from all the sampling locations are uncontaminated with Co, Ni and Pb, and uncontaminated to moderately contaminated with Cu and Zn at one port location, and with Cr at all locations.


The very high Cr and Ni levels could still be geogenic because soils developed on Eocene flysch rocks are enriched in both metals. Cr and Ni are not correlated because of their different levels of sorption and retention in carbonate soils. Cr was retained and concentrated in the sand fraction but Ni has been mobilised in solution. The only serious threat to the environment seems to be an illegal waste dumping area near the port.


Agriculture Port Soil pollution Vineyard 



Financial support of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology of Slovenia is gratefully acknowledged (Programme P1-0008).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering, Department of GeologyUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Ivan Rakovec Institute of Palaeontology, ZRC SAZULjubljanaSlovenia

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