Monitoring of Soil Contamination by Heavy Metals in the Impact Zone of Copper-Nickel Smelter on the Kola Peninsula

Research paper by G. M. Kashulina

Indexed on: 29 Apr '18Published on: 01 Apr '18Published in: Eurasian Soil Science


The results of landscape monitoring of the concentrations of acid-extractable Ni, Cu, Co, Mn, and Zn in soils of the local impact zone of the Severonikel industrial complex on the Kola Peninsula are discussed. The aim of monitoring studies was to reveal the spatial and temporal regularities of variation in the degree of soil contamination by heavy metals. In 2001–2011, the concentrations of acid-extractable compounds of the elements in the upper part of organic soil horizons around this plant exceeded their background concentrations by two orders of magnitude for Cu and Co and by three orders of magnitude for Ni. The degree of topsoil contamination with Ni, Cu, and Co generally corresponded to the distance of the plots from the contamination source and to the modern technogenic load. However, because of the long period of the emissions, their extreme amounts, and complex composition, indirect factors—the degree of technogenic soil degradation, the loss of soil organic matter, saturation of the surface soil layers by the contaminating metals, and competitive relationships between the elements—also affect soil contamination level. The concentrations of all the studied metals in the topsoil are characterized by considerable (1.5 to 7 times) variability in their long-term dynamics. The most important factors of this variability for Ni, Cu, and Co are the organic matter content of the samples and the amount of atmospheric precipitation in the year preceding the sampling. An inverse relationship between element concentrations in the soils and the amount of atmospheric precipitation attests to the dynamic nature and reversible character of the accumulation of heavy metals in the soils.