Magnetometry and ground-penetrating radar surveys applied to tracing potential collectors of mining-derived pollutants in coastal sediments (Piscinas Bay, Montevecchio mining area, SW Sardinia)

  • Ó. Pueyo Anchuela
  • P. Frongia
  • F. Di Gregorio
  • A. M. Casas Sainz
  • A. Pocoví Juan
Original Article


Dispersion of pollutants from mining areas can result in risks to human health. The dynamic interaction of geological processes can generate complex situations that favor enrichment in toxic elements by sedimentary and diagenetic mechanisms. In order to explore the distribution of iron-rich minerals in coastal and river sediments, a geophysical campaign was performed along the outlet of the Piscinas and Naracauli Rivers that drain two abandoned mining areas in SW Sardinia. Both rivers flow into the Mediterranean Sea, a bay where fluvial, marine, and eolian processes interact. The geophysical campaign comprised magnetometry and ground-penetrating radar surveys. Magnetic properties were controlled by means of magnetic susceptibility measurements along the beach and dune areas, through sampling of surface sediments, natural outcrops and trenches, and considering different grain size intervals. Results indicate enrichment in ferromagnetic minerals at the leeside of dunes and berms. Sedimentological interpretation is supported by means of ground-penetrating radar. Due to both sedimentary and diagenetic processes, the 100- to 300-μm fraction of fine sands exhibits high susceptibility. Implied tenors of toxic elements in the magnetite may represent a serious hazard to environmental and health security. The results inferred from magnetic anomalies support the applicability of the geophysical approach in order to locate high concentrations of iron-rich particles both at surface and below ground and the usefulness of joint evaluation of magnetic susceptibility and ground-penetrating radar in order to characterize the sedimentary and geomorphology-controlled magnetite distribution.


Potentially toxic elements Environmental magnetism Magnetometry Magnetic susceptibility Ground-penetrating radar Mining wastes Sardinia 



This work has been supported by Università degli studi di Cagliari and Geotransfer Research Group from Universidad de Zaragoza. Authors want to acknowledge suggestions from three anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

12665_2017_6555_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (149 kb)
Figures that include the location of earth magnetic field measurement points, the map of residual magnetic anomaly, and the vertical magnetic gradient. In all the figures, the aerial photograph of the studied zone is also included (PDF 149 kb)
12665_2017_6555_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (74 kb)
Table 1—Grain size results of beach deposits used for the representation of Fig. 7. The table includes the grain size classes, the maximum size for each interval, their weight and contribution, the accumulative mass, the magnetic susceptibility, and the calculation of their mass susceptibility (PDF 73 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias de la TierraUniversidad de ZaragozaSaragossaSpain
  2. 2.Facoltà di ScienzeUniversità degli Studi di CagliariCagliariItaly

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