The effects of industrial pollution on soils in the Western Alps, Chamonix area, France

Research paper by W. C. Mahaney, R. G. V. Hancock

Indexed on: 01 Jun '89Published on: 01 Jun '89Published in: Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry


During the course of field work in the Chamonix-Argentière area of the Western Alps of France, low pH's (by field testing) were measured in soils of later Pleistocene and Holocene age. Subsequently, data derived from laboratory investigations showed high electrical conductivities (mainly from high SO42−) and pH values as low as 3.9 in epipedons of Inceptisols and Spodosols. Proximity to coal-fired electrical generating stations and industrial activity in le Fayet and Sallanches (20 km to Northwest) may generate considerable output of SO42− ions which, along with arsenic, antimony and bromine, survive transport up valley by anabatic wind systems. Because the country rock in the Chamonix area is largely an acidic crystalline complex of granite and gneiss, the tendency for lower pH's in the surface soils may have a disastrous effect on the coniferous forests in the area.