Predictivity Strength of the Spatial Variability of Phenanthrene Sorption Across Two Sandy Loam Fields

  • Antonio SoaresEmail author
  • Marcos Paradelo
  • Per Moldrup
  • Cristina Delerue-Matos
  • Lis W. de Jonge


Sorption is commonly agreed to be the major process underlying the transport and fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soils. However, there is still a scarcity of studies focusing on spatial variability at the field scale in particular. In order to investigate the variation in the field of phenanthrene sorption, bulk topsoil samples were taken in a 15 × 15-m grid from the plough layer in two sandy loam fields with different texture and organic carbon (OC) contents (140 samples in total). Batch experiments were performed using the adsorption method. Values for the partition coefficient K d (L kg−1) and the organic carbon partition coefficient K OC (L kg−1) agreed with the most frequently used models for PAH partitioning, as OC revealed a higher affinity for sorption. More complex models using different OC compartments, such as non-complexed organic carbon (NCOC) and complexed organic carbon (COC) separately, performed better than single K OC models, particularly for a subset including samples with Dexter n < 10 and OC <0.04 kg kg−1. The selected threshold revealed that K OC-based models proved to be applicable for more organic fields, while two-component models proved to be more accurate for the prediction of K d and retardation factor (R) for less organic soils. Moreover, OC did not fully reflect the changes in phenanthrene retardation in the field with lower OC content (Faardrup). Bulk density and available water content influenced the phenanthrene transport mechanism phenomenon.


Sorption Soil organic carbon Complexed organic carbon Non-complexed organic carbon Phenanthrene Field-scale Leaching risk 



This research was funded as part of the large framework project Soil Infrastructure, Interfaces and Translocation Processes in Inner Space (“Soil-it-is”) by the Danish Research Council for Technology and Production Sciences, by the Danish Pesticide Leaching Assessment Programme (, by the European Union (FEDER funds through COMPETE) and by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) through the project Pest-C/EQB/LA0006/2013. António Soares is grateful to FCT for his doctoral research grant (SFRH/BD/69565/2010) financed through POPH-QREN, Tipologia 4.1 e Formação Avançada, and subsidized by Fundo Social Europeu and Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior. M. Paradelo is financially supported by a postdoctoral contract from the Plan I2C, Xunta de Galicia. To all financing sources, the authors are greatly indebted.


  1. Abdul, A. S., Gibson, T. L., & Rai, D. N. (1987). Statistical correlations for predicting the partition-coefficient for nonpolar organic contaminants between aquifer organic-carbon and water. Hazardous Waste & Hazardous Materials, 4, 211–222.Google Scholar
  2. Amellal, S., Boivin, A., Ganier, C. P., & Schiavon, M. (2006). High sorption of phenanthrene in agricultural soils. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 26, 99–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cachada, A., Pereira, M. E., da Silva, E. F., & Duarte, A. C. (2012). Sources of potentially toxic elements and organic pollutants in an urban area subjected to an industrial impact. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184, 15–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Celis, R., de Jonge, H., de Jonge, L. W., Real, M., Hermosin, M. C., & Cornejo, J. (2006). The role of mineral and organic components in phenanthrene and dibenzofuran sorption by soil. European Journal of Soil Science, 57, 308–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Charnay, M., Tuis, S., Coquet, Y., & Barriuso, E. (2005). Spatial variability in 14C-herbicide degradation in surface and subsurface soils. Pest Management Science, 61, 845–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chung, N., & Alexander, M. (2002). Effect of soil properties on bioavailability and extractability of phenanthrene and atrazine sequestered in soil. Chemosphere, 48, 109–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cousin, I. T., Beck, K., & Jones, K. J. (1999). A review of the processes involved in the exchange of semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC) across the air-soil interface. Science of Total Environment, 228, 5–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. de Jonge, L. W., de Jonge, H., Moldrup, P., Jacobsen, O. H., & Christensen, B. T. (2000). Sorption of prochloraz on primary soil organomineral size separates. Journal of Environmental Quality, 29, 206–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. de Jonge, L. W., Moldrup, P., de Jonge, H., & Celis, R. (2008). Sorption and leaching of short-term-aged PAHs in eight European soils: link to physicochemical properties and leaching of dissolved organic carbon. Soil Science, 173, 13–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. DeLapp, R. C., & LeBoeuf, E. J. (2004). Thermal analysis of whole soils and sediment. Journal of Environmental Quality, 33, 330–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dexter, A. R., Richard, G., Arrouay, D., Czyz, E. A., Jolivet, C., & Duval, O. (2008). Complexed organic matter controls soil physical properties. Geoderma, 144, 620–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gaultier, J., Farenhorst, A., & Crow, G. (2006). Spatial variability of soil properties and 2,4-D sorption in a hummocky field as affected by landscape position and soil depth. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 86, 89–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gee, G. W., & Or, D. (2002). Methods of soil analysis, part 4—physical methods (5th ed.). Madison: Soil Science Society of America.Google Scholar
  14. Goderya, F. S. (1998). Field scale variations in soil properties for spatially variable control: a review. Journal of Soil Contamination, 7, 243–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gregorich, E., & Anderson, D. (1985). Effects of cultivation and erosion on soils of four toposequences in the Canadian prairies. Geoderma, 36, 343–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hassett, J. J., & Banwart, W. L. (1989). The sorption of nonpolar organics by soils and sediments. In B. L. Sawhney & K. Brown (Eds.), Reactions and movement of organic chemicals in soils. Madison: SSSA Spec. Publ. 22, Soil Science Society of America Inc.Google Scholar
  17. Huang, W., Peng, P., Yu, Z., & Fu, J. (2003). Effects of organic matter heterogeneity on sorption and desorption of organic contaminants by soils and sediments. Applied Geochemistry, 18, 955–972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jones, K. D., & Tiller, C. L. (1999). Effect of solution chemistry on the extent of binding of phenanthrene by a soil humic acid: a comparison of dissolved and clay bound humic. Environmental Science & Technology, 33, 580–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Karickhoff, S. W. (1981). Semi-empirical estimation of sorption of hydrophobic pollutants on natural sediments and soils. Chemosphere, 10, 833–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Karickhoff, S. W., Brown, D. S., & Scott, T. A. (1979). Sorption of hydrophobic pollutants on natural sediments. Water Research, 13, 241–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kiersch, K., Jandl, G., Meissner, R., & Leinweber, P. (2010). Small scale variability of chlorinated POPs in the river Elbe floodplain soils (Germany). Chemosphere, 79, 745–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kjaer, J., Olsen, P., Bach, K., Barlebo, H. C., Ingerslev, F., Hansen, M., & Sorensen, B. H. (2007). Leaching of estrogenic hormones from manure-treated structured soils. Environmental Science & Technology, 41, 3911–3917.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kjaer, J., Rosenbom, A. E., Brusch, W., Juhler, R. K., Gudmundsson, L., Plauborg, F., Grant, R., & Olsen, P. (2011). The Danish pesticide leaching assessment programme: monitoring results May 1999–June 2010. Copenhagen: Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.Google Scholar
  24. Kumari, K. G. I. D., Moldrup, P., Paradelo, M., & de Jonge, L. W. (2014). Phenanthrene sorption on bio-char amended soils: application rate, aging, and physicochemical properties of soil. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 225, 2105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Laor, Y., Farmer, W. J., Aochi, Y., & Strom, P. (1998). Phenanthrene binding and sorption to dissolved and to mineral-associated humic acid. Water Research, 32, 1923–1931.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Liang, Y., Zhang, X., Wang, J., & Li, G. (2012). Spatial variations of hydrocarbon contamination and soil properties in oil exploring fields across China. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 241–242, 371–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lindhardt, B., Abildrup, C., Vosgerau, H., Olsen, P., Torp, S., Iversen, B. V., Jorgensen, J. O., Plauborg, F., Rasmussen, P., & Gravesen, P. (2001). The Danish Pesticide Leaching Assessment Programme: Site characterization and monitoring design. (ISBN 87-7871-094-4). Available from Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.Google Scholar
  28. Loll, P., & Moldrup, P. (2000). Stochastic analyses of field-scale pesticide leaching risk as influenced by spatial variability in physical and biochemical parameters. Water Resources Research, 36, 959–970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Luo, L., Zhang, S., & Ma, Y. (2008). Evaluation of impacts of soil fractions on phenanthrene sorption. Chemosphere, 72, 891–896.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Magee, B. R., Lion, L. W., & Lemley, A. T. (1991). Transport of dissolved organic macromolecules and their effect on the transport of phenanthrene in porous media. Environmental Science & Technology, 25, 323–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Muller, K., Smith, R. E., James, T. K., Holland, P. T., & Rahman, A. (2003). Spatial variability of atrazine dissipation in an allophanic soil. Pest Management Science, 59, 893–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Murphy, E. M., Zachara, J. M., & Smith, S. C. (1990). Influence of mineral-bound humic substances on the sorption of hydrophobic organic compounds. Environmental Science & Technology, 24, 1507–1516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nielsen, D. R., Biggar, J. W., & Erh, K. T. (1973). Spatial variability of field-measured soil-water properties. Hilgardia, 42, 215–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Njoroge, B. N. K., Ball, W. P., & Cherry, R. S. (1998). Sorption of 1,2,4-trichlorobenzene and tetrachloroethene within an authigenic soil profile: changes in KOC with soil depth. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 29, 347–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ping, L., Lou, Y., Wu, L., Qian, W., Song, J., & Christie, P. (2006). Phenanthrene adsorption by soils treated with humic substances under different pH and temperature conditions. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 28, 189–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ran, Y., Huang, W., Rao, P. S. C., Liu, D., Sheng, G., & Fu, J. (2002). The role of condensed organic matter in the nonlinear sorption of hydrophobic organic contaminants by a peat and sediments. Journal of Environmental Quality, 31, 1953–1962.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Reeves, W. R., McDonald, T. J., Cizmas, L., & Donnely, K. C. (2004). Partitioning and desorption behavior of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from disparate sources. Science of Total Environment, 332, 183–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schlautman, M. A., & Morgan, J. (1993). Effects of aqueous chemistry on the binding of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by dissolved humic materials. Environmental Science & Technology, 27, 961–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schwarzenbach, R. P., & Westall, P. (1981). Transport of nonpolar organic compounds from surface water to groundwater. Laboratory sorption studies. Environmental Science & Technology, 15, 1360–1367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Site, D. (2000). Factors affecting sorption of organic compounds in natural sorbent/water systems and sorption coefficients for selected pollutants. A review. Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data, 30, 187–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Soares, A. A., Minh, L. N., Vendelboe, A. L., Schjonning, P., & de Jonge, L. W. (2013). Sorption of phenanthrene on agricultural soils. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 224, 1519–1530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Styrishave, B., Bjorklund, E., Johnsen, A., & Halling-Sorensen, B. (2012). The spatial heterogeneity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in soil depends on their physico-chemical properties. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 223, 969–977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Umali, B. P., Oliver, D. P., Ostendorf, B., Forrester, S., Chittleborough, D. J., Hutson, J. L., & Kookana, R. S. (2012). Spatial distribution of diuron sorption affinity as affected by soil, terrain and management practices in an intensively managed apple orchard. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 217–218, 398–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Vinther, F. P., Brinch, U. C., Elsgaard, I., Fredslund, L., Iversen, B. V., Torp, S., & Jacobsen, C. S. (2008). Field-scale variation in microbial activity and soil properties in relation to mineralization and sorption of pesticides in a sandy soil. Journal of Environmental Quality, 37, 1710–1718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wauchope, R. D., Yeh, S., Linders, J. B. H. J., Kloskowski, R., Tanaka, K., Rubin, B., Katayama, A., Kördel, W., Gerstl, Z., Lane, M., & Unsworth, J. B. (2002). Pesticide soil sorption parameters: theory, measurement, uses, limitations and reliability. Pest Management Science, 58, 419–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilcke, W. (2000). Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil—a review. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 163, 229–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yang, L., Jin, M., Tong, C., & Xie, S. (2013). Study of dynamic sorption and desorption of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in silty-clay soil. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 244–245, 77–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Soares
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marcos Paradelo
    • 1
    • 3
  • Per Moldrup
    • 4
  • Cristina Delerue-Matos
    • 2
  • Lis W. de Jonge
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agroecology, Faculty of Science and TechnologyAarhus UniversityTjeleDenmark
  2. 2.Requimte, Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Instituto Politécnico do PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry Group, Department of Plant Biology and Soil Science, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of VigoOurenseSpain
  4. 4.Department of Biotechnology, Chemistry and Environmental EngineeringAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

Personalised recommendations