Rare earth elements distribution in soil nearby thermal power plant

  • Željka FiketEmail author
  • Gordana Medunić
  • Goran Kniewald
Original Article


Rare earth element (REE) concentrations and their normalized counterparts were used to assess the influence of coal-fired power plant on surrounding soils. Research was conducted in the area of the thermal power plant (TPP) Plomin in Croatia. For purpose of study REEs were determined in several groups of samples; (1) soils sampled at different distances from the TPP, from its very proximity to the distance of 10 km, (2) coals from the nearby Raša mine used as a fuel in the TPP till late 1990s together with related ash and slag samples; and (3) ash produced by combustion of imported coal used from 1990s onwards. Results point to existence of differences among the analyzed ashes and sampled soils, in terms of REE concentrations as well as their normalized patterns. Highest REE levels were recorded in samples of recent ash, while concentrations of REE in soil samples decrease with distance from the TPP. Normalized patterns of soils sampled in the vicinity of TPP resemble the normalized patterns of recent ashes, exhibiting lower LREENASC enrichment compared to control soils. With increasing distance from the TPP, the soil samples display increasing fractionation between LREENASC and HREENASC, what is typical for the local unpolluted soil. The obtained results points to transfer of ash particles emitted from the TPP to the surrounding environment, with the greatest influence observed in the direction of the prevailing north-eastern wind.


Thermal power plant Rare earth elements Soil geochemistry 



Financial support from the Croatian Science Foundation through the project IP-11-2013-7555 TRACESS is acknowledged. The second author is indebted to dr. Milko Jakšić, head of the Division of experimental physics as well as Laboratory for ion beam interactions, and dr. Stjepko Fazinić from the same laboratory (Rudjer Bošković Institute, Zagreb, Croatia), who kindly provided the samples of the Raša coal, ash and slag (which were previously collected by dr. Vladivoj Valković few decades ago). The second author is also grateful to her colleague dr. Ivanka Lovrenčić Mikelić (Rudjer Bošković Institute, Zagreb, Croatia) who designed the sampling scheme, as well as to the students Gorana Ernečić and Ana Velić, who carried out gruelling field work for their master’s level degree.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Željka Fiket
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gordana Medunić
    • 2
  • Goran Kniewald
    • 1
  1. 1.Divison for Marine and Environmental ResearchRudjer Bošković InstituteZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Department of Geology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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