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


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.


Trace metal contamination Factor analysis Geoaccumulation index Fluvial sediment Mining area 



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.


  1. Arroyo YRR, Siebe C (2007) Weathering of sulphide minerals and trace element speciation in tailings of various ages in the Guanajuato mining district, Mexico. Catena 71:497–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett B, Dudas MJ (2003) Release of arsenic and molybdenum by reductive dissolution of iron oxides in a soil with enriched levels of native arsenic. J Environ Eng Sci 2:265–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carlsson E, Thunberg J, Öhlander B, Holmström H (2002) Sequential extraction of sulfide–rich tailings remediated by the application of till cover, Kristineberg mine, northern Sweden. Sci Total Environ 299:207–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cevik F, Goksu MZL, Derici OB, Findik O (2009) An assessment of metal pollution in surface sediments of Seyhan dam by using enrichment factor, geoaccumulation index and statistical analyses. Environ Monit Assess 152:309–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen YH, Xie WB, Wu YJ, Wang ZH (2001) Utilisation of mineral resources containing thallium and thallium pollution in China. J Shenzhen Univ (Sci & Eng) 18:57–63 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  6. Chen T, Liu XM, Zhu MZ, Zhao KL, Wu JJ, Xu JM, Huang PM (2008) Identification of trace element sources and associated risk assessment in vegetable soils of the urban-rural transitional area of Hangzhou, China. Environ Pollut 151:67–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chirenje T, Rivero C, Ma LQ (2002) Leachability of Cu and Ni in wood ash-amended soil as impacted by humic and fulvic acid. Geoderma 108:31–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christensen JB, Christensen TH (2000) The effect of pH on the complexation of Cd, Ni and Zn by dissolved organic carbon from leachate-polluted groundwater. Water Res 34:3743–3754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ciszewski D, Malik I (2004) The use of heavy metal concentrations and dendrochronology in the reconstruction of sediment accumulation, Mala Panew River Valley, southern Poland. Geomorphology 58:161–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ciszewski D, Czajka A, Blazej S (2008) Rapid migration of heavy metals and Cs-137 in alluvial sediments, Upper Odra River valley, Poland. Environ Geol 55:1577–1586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dobran S, Zagury GJ (2006) Arsenic speciation and mobilization in CCA-contaminated soils: influence of organic matter content. Sci Total Environ 364:239–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fang TH, Hong E (1999) Mechanisms influencing the spatial distribution of trace metals in surficial sediments of the south-western Taiwan. Mar Pollut Bull 38:1026–1037CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Guthrie JW, Hassan NM, Salam MSA, Fasfous II, Murimboh CA, Murimboh J, Chakrabarti CL, Grégoire DC (2005) Complexation of Ni, Cu, Zn, and Cd by DOC in some metal-impacted freshwater lakes: a comparison of approaches using electrochemical determination of free-metal-ion and labile complexes and a computer speciation model, WHAM V and VI. Anal Chim Acta 528:205–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hamilton EI (2000) Environmental variables in a holistic evaluation of land contaminated by historic mine wastes: a study of multi-element mine wastes in West Devon, England using arsenic as an element of potential concern to human health. Sci Total Environ 249:171–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Han YM, Du PX, Cao JJ, Eric SP (2006) Multivariate analysis of heavy metal contamination in urban dusts of Xi’an, Central China. Sci Total Environ 355:176–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hartley W, Dickinson NM, Clemente R, French C, Piearce TG, Sparke S, Lepp NW (2009) Arsenic stability and mobilization in soil at an amenity grassland overlying chemical waste (St. Helens, UK). Environ Pollut 157:847–856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Huang RH (1998) Advanced geochemistry. Science Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  18. Hudson-Edwards KA, Macklin MG, Curtis CD, Vaughan DJ (1998) Chemical remobilization of contaminant metals within floodplain sediments in an incising river system: implications for dating and chemostratigraphy. ESPL 23:671–684Google Scholar
  19. Jacobson AR, McBride MB, Baveye P, Steenhuis TS (2005) Environmental factors determining the trace-level sorption of silver and thallium to soils. Sci Total Environ 345:191–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jarva J, Tarvainen T, Lintinen P, Reinikainen J (2009) Chemical characterization of metal-contaminated soil in two study areas in Finland. Water Air Soil Pollut 198:373–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lee PK, Baillif P, Touray JC (1997) Geochemical behaviour and relative mobility of metals (Mn, Cd, Zn and Pb) in recent sediments of a retention pond along the A-71 motorway in Sologne, France. Environ Geol 32:142–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lis J, Pasieczna A, Karbowska B, Zembrzuski W, Lukaszewski Z (2003) Thallium in soils and stream sediments of a Zn-Pb mining and smelting area. Environ Sci Technol 37:4569–4572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Loska K, Wiechuła D, Barska B, Cebula E, Chojnecka A (2003) Assessment of arsenic enrichment of cultivated soils in southern Poland. Pol J Environ Stud 12:187–192Google Scholar
  24. Loska K, Wiechuła D, Korus I (2004) Metal contamination of farming soils affected by industry. Environ Intern 30:159–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mocko A, Waclawek W (2004) Three-step extraction procedure for determination of heavy metals availability to vegetables. Anal Bioanal Chem 380:813–817CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Müller G (1981) Die Schwermetallbelastung der Sedimente des Neckars und seiner Nebenflüsse: Eine Bestandsaufnahme. Chem Ztg 105:157–164Google Scholar
  27. Muller J, Kylander M, Martinez-Cortizas A, Wüst RAJ, Weiss D, Blake K, Coles B, Garcia-Sanchez R (2008) The use of principle component analyses in characterising trace and major elemental distribution in a 55 kyr peat deposit in tropical Australia: implications to paleoclimate. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 72:449–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Munsell Color (2000) Munsell soil color charts (2000 revised washable edition). Gretagmacbeth, New Windsor, NYGoogle Scholar
  29. Pan JY, Zhang Q, Zhang BG (1994) A preliminary discussion on geochemical characteristics and genesis of the Dajiangping pyrite ore deposit, Western Guangdong. Miner Depos 13:231–241 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  30. Paquet H, Clauer N (1997) Soils and sediments, mineralogy and geochemistry. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  31. Pueyo M, Mateu J, Rigol A, Vidal M, López-Sánchez JF, Rauret G (2008) Use of the modified BCR three-step sequential extraction procedure for the study of trace element dynamics in contaminated soils. Environ Pollut 152:330–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rao CRM, Sahuquillo A, Sanchez JFL (2008) A review of the different methods applied in environmental geochemistry for single and sequential extraction of trace elements in soils and related materials. Water Air Soil Pollut 189:291–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rath P, Panda UC, Bhatta D, Sahu KC (2009) Use of sequential leaching, mineralogy, morphology and multivariate statistical technique for quantifying metal pollution in highly polluted aquatic sediments—a case study: Brahmani and Nandira Rivers, India. J Hazard Mater 163:632–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rodriguez-Figueroa G, Shumilin E, Sanchez-Rodriguez I (2009) Heavy metal pollution monitoring using the brown seaweed Padina durvillaei in the coastal zone of the Santa Rosalia mining region, Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. J Appl Phycol 21:19–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Simón M, Martîn F, Ortiz I, Garcîa I, Fernández J, Fernández E, Dorronsoro C, Aguilar J (2001) Soil pollution by oxidation of tailings from toxic spill of a pyrite mine. Sci Total Environ 279:63–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Singh M, Ansari AA, Muller G, Singh IB (1997) Heavy metals in freshly deposited sediments of the Gomati River (a tributary of the Ganga River): effects of human activities. Environ Geol 29:246–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stevenson FJ (1994) Humus chemistry: genesis, composition, reactions. Wiley, New York, pp 285–288Google Scholar
  38. Swennen R, Van der Sluys J (2002) Anthropogenic impact on sediment composition and geochemistry in vertical overbank profiles of river alluvium from Belgium and Luxembourg. J Geochem Explor 75:93–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Taylor MP, Macklin MG, Hudson-Edwards K (2000) River sedimentation and fluvial response to Holocene environmental change in the Yorkshire Ouse Basin, northern England. Holocene 10:201–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tremel A, Masson P, Sterckeman T, Baize D, Mench M (1997) Thallium in French agrosystems—I. Thallium contents in arable soils. Environ Pollut 95:293–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ure AM, Quevauviller P, Muntau H, Griepink B (1993) Speciation of heavy metals in soils and sediments—an account of the improvement and harmonization of extraction techniques undertaken under the auspices of the BCR of the Commission of the European Communities. Int J Environ Anal Chem 51:135–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vaněk A, Chrastn V, Mihaljevič M, Drahota P, Grygar T, Komárek M (2009) Lithogenic thallium behavior in soils with different land use. J Geochem Explor 102:7–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vega FA, Covelo EF, Andrade ML (2006) Competitive sorption and desorption of heavy metals in mine soils: Influence of mine soil characteristics. J Colloid Interface Sci 298:582–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Villar M, Alava F, Lavilla I, Bendicho C (2001) Operational speciation of thallium in environmental solid samples by electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry according to the BCR sequential extraction scheme. J Anal At Spectrom 16:1424–1428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wang ZH, Luo SC, Lin CH, Xie WB, Chen YH (2000) Malic acid leaching investigation on thallium-containing pyrite deposit. Geochimica 29:283–286 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  46. Wang XS, Qin Y, Sang SX (2005) Accumulation and sources of heavy metals in urban topsoils: a case study from the city of Xuzhou, China. Environ Geol 48:101–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wells ML, Kozelka PB, Bruland KW (1998) The complexation of dissolved Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb by soluble and colloidal organic matter in Narragansett Bay, RI. Mar Chem 62:203–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wu YJ, Chen YH, Liu RF, Zou ZH, Li CF (2000) Thallium in pyrite slag leached under acid rain. Environ Chem 19:47–54 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  49. Xia K, Bleam W, Helmke PA (1997) Studies of the nature of binding sites of first row transition elements bound to aquatic and soil humic substances using X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 61(11):2223–2235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Xie WB, Chen YH, Chen SL, Wang GL, Chang XY (2001) Distribution of thallium in pyrite ores and its cinders of YunFu Pyrite Mine, Guangdong. Multipurp Util Miner Resour 2:23–25 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  51. Yang RY, Cao JJ, Kang XG, Yin ZQ (1997) The characteristics and genesis of YunFu pyrite deposit in Guangdong Province. Acta Sci Nat Univ Sunyatseni 36:79–83 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  52. Yang CX, Chen YH, Peng P, Li C, Chang XY, Xie CS (2005) Distribution of natural and anthropogenic thallium in the soils in an industrial pyrite slag disposing area. Sci Total Environ 341:159–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhou J, Ma DS, Pan J, Nie WM, Wu K (2008) Application of multivariate statistical approach to identify heavy metal sources in sediment and waters: a case study in Yangzhong, China. Environ Geol 54:373–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations