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Carbonates and Evaporites

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 51–63 | Cite as

Factor analysis and sequential extraction unveil geochemical processes relevant for trace metal distributions in fluvial sediments of a pyrite mining area, China

  • Juan Liu
  • Yongheng Chen
  • Jin Wang
  • Jianying Qi
  • Chunlin Wang
  • Holger Lippold
  • Johanna Lippmann-PipkeEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

Four fluvial sediment cores were geochemically analysed for their major elements and for their trace metal contents and represent a sensitive environmental record for heavy metal contamination in a pyrite mining area, Pearl River Basin, South China. While an identification of depositional and post-depositional processes is not possible by means of the vertical profiles of the trace metal contents alone, factor analysis uncovers four main factors that control trace metal distributions in the sediment cores. After analysing the geochemical fractions of heavy metals by a sequential extraction procedure, these four factors could be explained as (i) complexation with organic matter in the sediment (As, Cu, Ni and Zn), (ii) weathering processes by iron reduction and oxidation (Pb, Mo and Cr), (iii) weathering by Mn reduction and oxidation (Tl and Co) and (iv) binding effects of sulphur in the sediment or physical transport of pyrite tailings (Zn). The environmental evaluation by geoaccumulation indices and enrichment factors reveals that the studied sediment cores are significantly contaminated and enriched with As, Tl, Pb and Zn. The risk assessment code additionally suggests low to medium risk of these studied heavy metals on the whole.

Keywords

Trace metal contamination Factor analysis Geoaccumulation index Fluvial sediment Mining area 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank K. Franke, A. Mansel, U. Gottschalch, M. Stockmann and C. Schößler from the FZD for technical assistance and helpful suggestions. We are also thankful to Y. Wu, P. Zhang and X. Chang from the GU for their constructive advice. Support by the Urban Water Centre, Guangzhou, is gratefully acknowledged. This project was supported by The United Foundation of National Nature Science Foundation Committee of P. R. China, the Guangdong Provincial Government (No. U0633001) and a DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) scholarship to J. L. This is contribution No. 1164 from GIG-CAS.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Liu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yongheng Chen
    • 4
  • Jin Wang
    • 1
    • 5
  • Jianying Qi
    • 6
  • Chunlin Wang
    • 1
  • Holger Lippold
    • 2
  • Johanna Lippmann-Pipke
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (GIG-CAS)GuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Forschungszentrum Dresden Rossendorf (FZD), Institute of RadiochemistryLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (GS-CAS)BeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Guangzhou University (GU)GuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental HealthInstitute of Radiation Protection (ISS)NeuherbergGermany
  6. 6.South China Institute of Environmental Science (SCIES)Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP)GuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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