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Aluminum fractionation in acidic soils and river sediments in the Upper Mero basin (Galicia, NW Spain)

Abstract

This study aims to determine aluminum fractions in the fine earth of acidic soils under different land uses (forest, pasture and cultivation) and in the river bed sediments of the headwater of the Mero River in order to identify and quantify Al-bearing phases to assess Al mobility and potential bioavailability (environmental availability) in the monitoring area. Sequential extraction is used to evaluate the Al partitioning into six fractions operationally defined: soluble/exchangeable/specifically adsorbed, bound to manganese oxides, associated with amorphous compounds, aluminum bound to oxidizable organic matter, associated with crystalline iron oxides, and residual fraction (aluminum within the crystal lattices of minerals). The mean concentration of total aluminum (24.01 g kg−1) was similar for the three considered uses. The mean percentage of the aluminum fractions, both in soils and sediments, showed the following order: residual fraction ≫ amorphous compounds ≈ crystalline iron oxides > water-soluble/exchangeable/specifically adsorbed > bound to oxidizable organic matter ≈ Mn oxides. However, in the soils, the amorphous compounds and water-soluble/exchangeable/specifically adsorbed fraction showed considerable differences between some types of uses, the percentage of aluminum linked to amorphous compounds being higher in forest soils (16% of total Al) compared to other uses (mean about 8% of total Al). The highest values of water-soluble/exchangeable/specifically adsorbed Al were also found in forest soils (mean 8.6% of the total Al versus about 4% of pasture and cultivation), which is consistent with the lower pH and higher organic matter content in forest soils. Nevertheless, the potentially bioavailable fraction (sum of the first three fractions) is low, suggesting very low geoavailability of this element in both soils and sediments; hence, the possibility to affect the crops and water quality is minimal.

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Acknowledgements

This paper is a contribution to the Projects 10MDS103031 of the Xunta de Galicia and CGL2014-56907-R of the Programa Estatal de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación Orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad, which was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The first author is grateful to the University of A Coruña for the scholarship grant at the University of Aveiro, Portugal. M.L. Rodríguez-Blanco has been awarded a post-doctoral research contract (Juan de la Cierva Programme), which was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

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Palleiro, L., Patinha, C., Rodríguez-Blanco, M.L. et al. Aluminum fractionation in acidic soils and river sediments in the Upper Mero basin (Galicia, NW Spain). Environ Geochem Health 40, 1803–1815 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-017-9940-7

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Keywords

  • Aluminum fractions
  • Acidic soils
  • Land use
  • Organic matter
  • Bed sediments