Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Shooting range contamination: mobility and transport of lead (Pb), copper (Cu) and antimony (Sb) in contaminated peatland

  • 429 Accesses

  • 11 Citations



Small arm shooting ranges located in peatland areas are gathering increased attention due to severe metal and antimony (Sb) contamination and challenging conditions for remediation. The goal of the present study was to gain further understanding of the distribution, binding and transport of lead (Pb), copper (Cu) and Sb in peatland contaminated by small arm shooting range activities.

Materials and methods

A field experiment was carried out at a recently closed shooting range facility in Norway, including (i) peat soil sampling for various selective extractions (water, chemical extractions, extractions by diffusive gradients in thin films, DGT), (ii) establishing groundwater wells for groundwater sampling and monitoring of groundwater level and (iii) sampling of water and sediments in surface water. The results from groundwater monitoring were used to carry out hydrogeological numerical simulations using Seep/W and CTran/W. These models were used to evaluate the residence time of the contaminants in the peatland.

Results and discussion

Increased metal concentrations were observed in the top layer of the peatland, indicating low vertical transport. Groundwater revealed high concentrations of Pb (22 ± 5 μg/L), Cu (16 ± 6 μg/L) and Sb (11 ± 2 μg/L), the dominating contaminant source to the downstream surface water. Hydrogeological modelling indicated that transport mainly happened in the upper peat layer, as a result of a higher hydraulic conductivity close to the surface and a high groundwater table. Pb (6.9 ± 0.1 μg/L), Cu (24.0 ± 0.0 μg/L) and Sb (7.4 ± 0.1 μg/L) concentrations in the stream samples confirmed the spreading of contaminants at levels toxic to aquatic organisms. Pb and Cu were most likely associated with dissolved organic carbon (DOC), whereas Sb showed no correlation with DOC.


The elements contaminating the peatland may leak to the nearby water course over a long-term period. Copper showed the highest concentration in the stream water despite considerably higher levels of Pb in the peat soil. Strong complexation of Cu to dissolved organic matter might explain this observation. Only a little fraction of the contaminants is transported in a particulate form, and therefore are increased sedimentation measures not considered as viable remediation option.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Ackermann S, Giere R, Newville M, Majzlan J (2009) Antimony sinks in the weathering crust of bullets from Swiss shooting ranges. Sci Total Environ 407:1669–1682

  2. Bartles JM, Bigham JM (1996) Methods of soil analysis part 3. Chemical methods. Soil Science Society of America, Inc., Wisconsin

  3. Beckwith CW, Baird AJ, Heathwaite AL (2003) Anisotropy and depth-related heterogeneity of hydraulic conductivity in a bog peat. I: laboratory measurements. Hydrol Process 17:89–101

  4. Bolstad M (2015) Kunnskapsstatus og kunnskapsbehov knytt til grunnforureining ved skytebaner. Utgreiing om problemomfang og kunnskapsgrunnlag (in Norwegian). Forsvarsbygg Futura rapport 2013/508, Oslo

  5. Broder T, Biester H (2015) Hydrologic controls on DOC, As and Pb export from a polluted peatland—the importance of heavy rain events, antecedent moisture conditions and hydrological connectivity. Biogeosciences 12:4651–4664

  6. Cao XD, Ma LQ, Chen M, Hardison DW, Harris WG (2003) Lead transformation and distribution in the soils of shooting ranges in Florida, USA. Sci Total Environ 307:179–189

  7. Chao TT, Zhou L (1983) Extraction techniques for selective dissolution of amorphous iron-oxides from soils and sediments. Soil Sci Soc Am J 47:225–232

  8. Chason DB, Siegel DI (1986) Hydraulic conductivity and related physical properties of peat, Lost River peatland, northern Minnesota. Soil Sci 142:91–99

  9. Clausen JL, Bostick B, Korte N (2011) Migration of lead in surface water, pore water, and groundwater with a focus on firing ranges. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol 41:1397–1448

  10. Conesa HM, Wieser M, Gasser M, Hockmann K, Evangelou MWH, Studer B, Schulin R (2010) Effects of three amendments on extractability and fractionation of Pb, Cu, Ni and Sb in two shooting range soils. J Hazard Mater 181:845–850

  11. Davison W, Zhang H (1994) In-situ speciation measurements of trace components in natural waters using thin-film gels. Nature 367:546–548

  12. DGT Research (2017): DGT—for measurements in water, soils and sediments,

  13. Egner H, Riehm H, Domingo WR (1960) Untersuchungen über die chemische Boden-Analyse als Grundlage für die Beurteilung des Nährstoffzustandes der Boden. Annals of the Royal Swedish Agricultural College 26:199–215

  14. Ferlatte M, Quillet A, Larocque M, Cloutier V, Pellerin S, Paniconi C (2015) Aquifer-peatland connectivity in southern Quebec (Canada). Hydrol Process 29:2600–2612

  15. Filella M, Williams PA, Belzile N (2009) Antimony in the environment: knowns and unknowns. Environ Chem 6:95–105

  16. Fraser CJD, Roulet NT, Lafleur M (2001) Groundwater flow patterns in a large peatland. J Hydrol 246:142–154

  17. Fritzsche A, Schroder C, Wieczorek AK, Handel M, Ritschel T, Totsche KU (2015) Structure and composition of Fe-OM co-precipitates that form in soil-derived solutions. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 169:167–183

  18. Gleyzes C, Tellier S, Astruc M (2002) Fractionation studies of trace elements in contaminated soils and sediments: a review of sequential extraction procedures. Trac-Trends Anal Chem 21:451–467

  19. Grybos M, Davranche M, Gruau G, Petitjean P, Pedrot M (2009) Increasing pH drives organic matter solubilization from wetland soils under reducing conditions. Geoderma 154:13–19

  20. Gustafsson JP (2012) Visual MINTEQ ver. 3.0. KTH, Stockholm

  21. Håkanson L (1976) A bottom sediment trap for recent sedimentary deposits. Limnol Oceanogr 21:170–174

  22. Heier LS, Lien IB, Stromseng AE, Ljones M, Rosseland BO, Tollefsen KE, Salbu B (2009) Speciation of lead, copper, zinc and antimony in water draining a shooting range-time dependant metal accumulation and biomarker responses in brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) Sci Total Environ 407:4047–4055

  23. Heier LS, Meland S, Ljones M, Salbu B, Stromseng AE (2010) Short-term temporal variations in speciation of Pb, Cu, Zn and Sb in a shooting range runoff stream. Sci Total Environ 408:2409–2417

  24. Heikkilä R, Lindholm T, Tahvanainen T (2006) Mires of Finland—daughters of the Baltic Sea, The Finnish Environment

  25. Hobbs NB (1986) Mire morphology and the properties and behavior of some British and foreign peats. Q J Eng Geol 19:7–80

  26. Hockmann K, Lenz M, Tandy S, Nachtegaal M, Janousch M, Schulin R (2014) Release of antimony from contaminated soil induced by redox changes. J Hazard Mater 275:215–221

  27. Ingram HAP (1983) Hydrology. In: Gore AJP (ed) Ecosystems of the world 4A mires: swamp, bog, fen and moor. Elsevier, Amstemdam, pp 67–158

  28. Johnson CA, Moench H, Wersin P, Kugler P, Wenger C (2005) Solubility of antimony and other elements in samples taken from shooting ranges. J Environ Qual 34:248–254

  29. Jordan RN, Yonge DR, Hathhorn WE (1997) Enhanced mobility of Pb in the presence of dissolved natural organic matter. J Contam Hydrol 29:59–80

  30. Kellner E (2003) Wetlands-different types, their properties and functions. SKB TR-04-08, Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB

  31. Klima og miljødepartementet (2004) Forskrift om begrensning av forurensning (Pollution Regulation), FOR 2004-06-01 nr 931. Ministry of Climate and Environment, Oslo

  32. Logan EM, Pulford ID, Cook GT, MacKenzie AB (1997) Complexation of Cu2+ and Pb2+ by peat and humic acid. Eur J Soil Sci 48:685–696

  33. Ma LQ, Hardison DW, Harris WG, Cao XD, Zhou QX (2007) Effects of soil property and soil amendment on weathering of abraded metallic Pb in shooting ranges. Water Air Soil Pollut 178:297–307

  34. Mariussen E, Ljones M, Stromseng AE (2012) Use of sorbents for purification of lead, copper and antimony in runoff water from small arms shooting ranges. J Hazard Mater 243:95–104

  35. Mariussen E, Vaa Johnsen I, Stromseng AE (2017) Distribution and mobility of lead (Pb), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and antimony (Sb) from ammunition residues on shooting ranges for small arms located on mires. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24:10182–10196

  36. Miljødirektoratet (2016) Grenseverdier for klassifisering av vann, sediment og biota (in Norwegian). Report M-608/2016. Norwegian Environment Agency, Oslo

  37. Milne CJ, Kinniburgh DG, Van Riemsdijk WH, Tipping E (2003) Generic NICA-Donnan model parameters for metal-ion binding by humic substances. Environ Sci Technol 37:958–971

  38. Mohr CW, Vogt RD, Royset O, Andersen T, Parekh NA (2015) An in-depth assessment into simultaneous monitoring of dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) and low-molecular-weight organic phosphorus (LMWOP) in aquatic environments using diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT). Environ Sci-Process Impacts 17:711–727

  39. Njåstad O, Steinnes E, Bølviken B, Økdegård M (1994) Landsomfattende kartlegging av elementsammensetning i naturlig jord: Resultater fra prøver innsamlet i 1977 og 1985 oppnådd ved ICP emisjonsspektrometri. Norges Geologiske Undersøkelse rapport nr. 94.027 (in Norwegian)

  40. Okkenhaug G, Amstatter K, Bue HL, Cornelissen G, Breedveld GD, Henriksen T, Mulder J (2013) Antimony (Sb) contaminated shooting range soil: Sb mobility and immobilization by soil amendments. Environ Sci Technol 47:6431–6439

  41. Okkenhaug G, Gebhardt KAG, Amstaetter K, Bue HL, Herzel H, Mariussen E, Almas AR, Cornelissen G, Breedveld GD, Rasmussen G, Mulder J (2016) Antimony (Sb) and lead (Pb) in contaminated shooting range soils: Sb and Pb mobility and immobilization by iron based sorbents, a field study. J Hazard Mater 307:336–343

  42. Ottesen RT, Alexander J, Joranger T, Anderson M (2007) Proposed soil guidelines. NGU report 2007-019. Norges Geologiske Undersøkelser, Trondheim

  43. Päivänen J (1973) Hydraulic conductivity and water retention in peat soils. Acta For Fenn 129:1–70

  44. Palmer K, Ronkanen AK, Klove B (2015) Efficient removal of arsenic, antimony and nickel from mine wastewaters in Northern treatment peatlands and potential risks in their long-term use. Ecol Eng 75:350–364

  45. Paquin PR et al (2002) The biotic ligand model: a historical overview. Comp Biochem Physiol C-Toxicol Pharmacol 133:3–35

  46. van Reeuwijk LP (1995) Procedures for soil analysis. 5th edition. Chap. 12–2. Acid oxalate extraction. Technical paper 9. International Soil Reference and Information Centre, FAO, Wageningen

  47. Reimann C, Matschullat J, Birke M, Salminen R (2010) Antimony in the environment: lessons from geochemical mapping. Appl Geochem 25:175–198

  48. Rothwell JJ, Evans MG, Daniels SM, Allott TEH (2007) Baseflow and stormflow metal concentrations in streams draining contaminated peat moorlands in the Peak District National Park (UK). J Hydrol 341:90–104

  49. Rydin H, Jeglum JK (2013) The biology of peatlands. Oxford University Press, London

  50. Saar RA, Weber JH (1980) Lead (II) complexation by fulvic acid—how it differs from fulvic acid complexation of copper(II) and cadmium(II). Geochim Cosmochim Acta 44:1381–1384

  51. Scheinost AC, Rossberg A, Vantelon D, Xifra I, Kretzschmar R, Leuz AK, Funke H, Johnson CA (2006) Quantitative antimony speciation in shooting-range soils by EXAFS spectroscopy. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 70:3299–3312

  52. Seo DC, Yu K, DeLaune RD (2008) Comparison of monometal and multimetal adsorption in Mississippi River alluvial wetland sediment: batch and column experiments. Chemosphere 73:1757–1764

  53. Shotyk W, Krachler M, Chen B (2004) Antimony in recent, ombrotrophic peat from Switzerland and Scotland: comparison with naturlal background values (5,320 to 8,020 14C yr BP) and implications for the global atmospheric Sb cycle. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 18:GB1016

  54. Silamikele I, Nikodemus O, Kalinina L, Kuske E, Rodinovs V, Purmalis O, Klavins M (2011) Major and trace element distribution in the peat from omrotropic bogs in Latvia. J Environ Sci Health Part A 46:805–812

  55. Sorvari J (2007) Environmental risks at Finnish shooting ranges—a case study. Hum Ecol Risk Assess 13:1111–1146

  56. Sorvari J, Antikainen R, Pyy O (2006) Environmental contamination at Finnish shooting ranges—the scope of the problem and management options. Sci Total Environ 366:21–31

  57. Steely S, Amarasiriwardena D, Xing BS (2007) An investigation of inorganic antimony species and antimony associated with soil humic acid molar mass fractions in contaminated soils. Environ Pollut 148:590–598

  58. Stromseng AE, Ljones M, Bakka L, Mariussen E (2009) Episodic discharge of lead, copper and antimony from a Norwegian small arm shooting range. J Environ Monit 11:1259–1267

  59. Strømseng AE, Ljønes M, Mariussen E (2014) Implementation of various initiatives at former shooting ranges established in peatlands polluted by heavy metals. Report: 2014/00604. Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Kjeller

  60. Tella M, Pokrovski GS (2012) Stability and structure of pentavalent antimony complexes with aqueous organic ligands. Chem Geol 292:57–68

  61. Tipping E, Rieuwerts J, Pan G, Ashmore MR, Lofts S, Hill MTR, Farago ME, Thornton I (2003) The solid-solution partitioning of heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb) in upland soils of England and Wales. Environ Pollut 125:213–225

  62. Xifra Olivé I (2006) Mobility of lead and antimony in shooting range soils. Doctoral thesis. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich

Download references


Financial support was provided by the Norwegian Defence Estate Agency and NGI. The authors thank Karl Andreas Jensen, Irene Eriksen Dahl and Solfid Lohne for all the valuable help with the laboratory work at NMBU. Jan Birger Voldmo is thanked for all field assistance in connection with field work at Terningmoen. We would also like to thank Professor Jan Mulder at the University of Life Sciences in Ås and Professor Rolf David Vogt at the University of Oslo for fruitful and insightful discussions.

Author information

Correspondence to Gudny Okkenhaug.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Mette Broholm

Electronic supplementary material


(DOCX 195 kb).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Okkenhaug, G., Smebye, A.B., Pabst, T. et al. Shooting range contamination: mobility and transport of lead (Pb), copper (Cu) and antimony (Sb) in contaminated peatland. J Soils Sediments 18, 3310–3323 (2018).

Download citation


  • Antimony
  • Copper
  • Lead
  • Mobility
  • Peatland
  • Shooting range soil