Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1780–1793 | Cite as

Textural changes and heavy metal distribution in sediments after decontamination treatment by soil washing and attrition scrubber

  • Ilaria Rodella
  • Carmela Vaccaro
  • Massimiliano Melchiorre
  • Umberto Simeoni
  • Tiziana Campisi
  • Corinne Corbau
Sediments, Sec 5 • Sediment Management • Research Article



The study was aimed to provide information on the decontamination of sediments polluted with heavy metals by soil washing and attrition scrubber techniques, assessing the efficiency of a prototype machinery for the improvement of sediment quality dredged in the Ravenna Harbor (Italy). An additional purpose was to compare the heavy metal distribution in sediment fractions collected after these treatments.

Materials and methods

Textural and geochemical characteristics were determined in bulk sediments and after the treatments of soil washing and attrition scrubbing by a smaller scale prototype. Statistical analyses were carried out to verify the heavy metal correlations at each step of the treatments.

Results and discussion

Textural features after treatments showed moderate separation of sand and silt/clay fractions after soil washing and an increase of the fine fractions after attrition scrubbing. Bulk sediments polluted by arsenic (As) were decontaminated after treatments. Concerning heavy metals, mercury was concentrated in the sand while aluminum, As, cadmium, chrome, iron, manganese, zinc, and vanadium were concentrated in the silt/clay fraction. Bivariate plots showed a significant correlation of heavy metals with sand percentage after soil washing and attrition scrubbing.


The results suggest that heavy metal concentrations were significantly affected by grain size distribution. Soil washing resulted in the complete decontamination of As in the sediments. The heavy metal concentration was altered in each step of the treatments according to three different trends.


Attrition scrubber Dredged sediment Heavy metals Remediation Soil washing 



The authors would like to thank Diemme Soil Washing Srl (Dr. D. Bettoli, Dr. D. Collini, and Dr. M. Contarini) and the Department of Physics and Earth Science of the University of Ferrara (Dr. U. Tessari for the particle size analyses of soil and Dr. F. Droghetti for the surveys and samplings). The study was co-funded by LIFE SEDI.PORT.SIL. Project (LIFE 09 ENV/IT/000158). The authors also thank the project managers Dr. E. Ulazzi and Dr. L. Magagnini and the Ravenna Port Authority. Thanks are also due to Dr. M. Chicca for the help in the final revision of the manuscript. English editing by G. G. Buffett.

Supplementary material

11368_2017_1896_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (16 kb)
ESM 1 S1 Pearson’s correlation matrix between heavy metal concentration and textural characteristics of IF and FF before treatments (PDF 15 kb)
11368_2017_1896_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (15 kb)
ESM 2 S2 Physical parameters of IF and FF after soil washing (PDF 15 kb)
11368_2017_1896_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (17 kb)
ESM 3 S3 Pearson’s correlation matrix of IF after soil washing (PDF 17 kb)
11368_2017_1896_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (14 kb)
ESM 4 S4 Pearson’s correlation matrix of IF after attrition scrubber (PDF 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics and Earth SciencesFerrara UniversityFerraraItaly
  2. 2.Group of Dynamics of the LithosphereInstitute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera ICTJA – CSICBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.CRSA MED Ingegneria Ltd.FerraraItaly

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