Experimental evidence for mobility of Zr and other trace elements in soils

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A Soxhlet extraction was carried out over a period of 27 d on a column comprising 3 cm of quartz overlain by 4 cm of soil from the B horizon and then 1 cm of soil from the A horizon of a granitic podzol. Major and trace elements were leached from the column and accumulated in a reservoir at the base of the column. Total loss of elements from the soil over the course of the experiment ranged from 0.002 to 1 wt% with major elements and the light and heavy rare earth elements (REE) showing the largest percentage losses. Zirconium (0.002%) and then Al (0.008%) showed the lowest percentage loss. The light REE were leached out of the soil preferentially to the mid REE. All elements showed accumulation, by a factor of 2 to 11, in the quartz layers at the base of the column, particularly in the upper first I cm of the quartz. Major elements were leached from the column at a rate of 0.02 to 0.59 mumol h(-1) whereas Zr, Nd, Sin, Gd, Dy, Rb, and Sr were leached at the rate of 0.5 to 30 X 10(-6) mumol h(-1). Concentrations of other REE in the reservoir increased over the duration of the experiment, but they were poorly correlated with time, so leaching rates were not calculated. Normalization of the major element leaching rates to take into account the constant flushing of water through the column, the average annual rainfall in the AIR a'Mharcaidh catchment in Scotland from where the soil was sampled, and the cross-sectional area of the soil in the column, together with the temperature of the soil in the column (70degreesC) compared with the average annual temperature of the Allt a'Mharcaidh catchment (5.7degreesC), gave major element release rates from the soil of 0.002 to 0.97 mEq m(-2) yr(-1) (depending on the choice of E., the dissolution activation energy), which are generally less than those measured in the field of 0.1 to 40.9 mEq m(-2) yr(-1).

Calculations showed that despite the redistribution and loss of Zr from the column, assumptions of Zr mobility would have had a negligible effect on calculated element release rates of Na, Ca, Fe, and Ma. However, significant underestimates of the release of K (5%), Ti (57%), Al (5%), and Si (10%) as well as some trace elements (e.g., Nd, 23%; Rb, 54%; Sr, 24%) would have occurred, Concentrations of Ca and Sr leached from the column correlated well (RSQ = 0.93, p < 0.01), supporting the idea of the use of Sr release as a proxy for Ca release in weathering rate calculations. The release rates and percentage loss of REE from the soil varied between elements indicating that REE distribution patterns of rocks and soils may not be preserved in drainage waters. Copyright (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-828
Number of pages10
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002

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