Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 291–300 | Cite as

Heavy metals in soils in north Somerset, England, with special reference to contamination from base metal mining in the Mendips

  • Brian E. Davies
  • Rhoda C. Bailinger


A 2 × 2 km grid survey of surface soils was conducted over 600 km of North Somerset, England, to investigate the role of pollution from former base metai mines on soil heavy metal content. Soil contents of Pb, Zn, Cu and Cd were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry after extraction in hot, concentrated nitric acid. Most of the soils were contaminated by lead, zinc and cadmium. Isoline maps and perspective block diagrams showed this contamination to be most severe on the Mendip plateau, especially in the vicinity of Shipham, Wells and Priddy districts. Resurgences, polluted from mine drainage, also contaminated soils at the base of the Mendip slopes and, over the lowlands, trace element enriched Liassic shales caused significant local anomalies.


Heavy Metal Cadmium Shale Nitric Acid Base Metal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson R.J., Davies B.E., Nunn J.H. and James P.M.C. 1979. The dental health of children from five villages in north Somerset with reference to environmental cadmium and lead.British Denial J.,147, 159–161.Google Scholar
  2. Avery B.W. 1955. The Sous of the Glastonbury District of Somerset. HMSO, London.Davies B.E. and Ginnever R.C. 1979. Trace metal contamination of soils and vegetables in Shipham, Somerset.J. Agricult. Sci. (Cambridge),9d3, 753–756.Google Scholar
  3. Davies B.E. 1983. A graphical estimation of the normal lead content of some British soils.Geoderma,29, 67–75.Google Scholar
  4. Davies B.E. and Roberts L.J. 1978. The distribution of heavy metal contaminated soils in north east Clwyd, Wales.Water, Air Soil Pollut.,9, 507–518.Google Scholar
  5. Davies B.E. and Roberts L.J. 1975. Heavy metals in sous and radish in a mineralised area of Wales, Great Britain.Science Total Environ.,d4, 249–261.Google Scholar
  6. Davies B.E. and Wixson B.G. 1985. Trace elements in surface soils from the mineralised area of Madison county, Missouri, USA.J. Soil Sci.,36, 551–570.Google Scholar
  7. Findlay D.C. 1965. The soils of the Mendip district of Somerset. Harpenden: Soil Survey of England and Wales.Google Scholar
  8. Gough J.W. 1967.The Mines of Mendip. David and Charles, Newton Abbot.Google Scholar
  9. Green G.W. 1958. Mendip Lead-Zinc Orefield: Bulletin Geological Survey of Great Britain No. 14. HMSO, London.Google Scholar
  10. Le Riche H.H. 1959. Molybdenum in the lower liass of England and Wales in relation to the incidence of lean.J, Soil Sci.,10, 133.Google Scholar
  11. Reaves G.A. and Berrow M.L. 1984. Total lead concentrations in Scottish soils.Geoderma,32, 1–8.Google Scholar
  12. Sherlock J.C., Smart G.A., Walters B., Evans W.H., McWeeny D.J. and Cassidy W. 1983. Dietary surveys on a population at Shipham, Somerset, United Kingdom.Sci, Total Environ.,29, 121–142.Google Scholar
  13. Sinclair A.J. 1974. Selection of thresholds in geochemical data using probability graphs.J. Geockem. Exploration,3, 129–149.Google Scholar
  14. Stenner R.D. 1977. The concentration of some heavy metals in sediments in some Mendip caves.Proc. Seventh Intnl Speliological Conf., Sheffield (September), 383–384.Google Scholar
  15. Stenner R.D. 1978. The concentration of cadmium, copper, lead and zinc in sediments from caves and associated surface streams on Mendip, Somerset.Trans. British Cave Res. Assoc.,5, 113–120.Google Scholar
  16. Thomson, I., Thomton, I. and Webb, J.S. 1972. Molybdenum in black shales and the incidence of bovine hypocuprosis.J. Sci. Food Agriculture,23, 879–891.Google Scholar
  17. Thomton, I. 1983. Geochemistry applied to agriculture. In: Thornton, I. (ed.),Applied Environmental Geochemistry. Chapter 8, pp. 231–266. Academic Press Geology Series, London.Google Scholar
  18. Thornton I., Moon R.N.B. and Webb J.S. 1969. Geochemical reconnaissance of the lower lias.Nature (London),221, 457–459.Google Scholar
  19. Thornton I., Moorcroft J.S. and Watt J. 1980. Cadmium at Shipham — a unique example of environmental geochemistry and health. In: Hemphill, D.D. (ed.),Trace Substances in Environmental Health. Vol.26, pp.27–37.Google Scholar
  20. Ure A.M. and Berrow M.L. 1982. The elemental constituents of soils. In: Bowen, H.J.M. (ed.),Environmental Chemistry, Vol.2. The Royal Society of Chemistry, London.Google Scholar
  21. Warren H.V. and Delavault R.E. 1960. Aqua regia extractable copper and zinc in plutonic rocks in relation to ore deposits.Trans. Inst. Mining and Metallurgy,69, 495–504.Google Scholar
  22. Wilkins C. 1978. The distribution of lead in the sous and herbage of west Pembrokeshire.Environ. Pollut.,15, 23–30.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sciences and Technology Letters 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian E. Davies
    • 1
  • Rhoda C. Bailinger
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of BradfordBradfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Maritime StudiesUniversity of Wales College of CardiffCardiffUK

Personalised recommendations