Mercury distribution in an abandoned metallurgical plant
1 CIEMAT- Environmental Department. Avenida Complutense 40, 28040 Madrid, SPAIN
The aim of the work is to evaluate the spatial distribution of Hg in the soil-plant system within an area where intense activity of Hg was dominant over a long period. An abandoned metallurgical plant from the 17th-18th centuries was chosen as the study area. It is situated in Almadenejos within the Almadén mining district (Spain) that constitutes the largest and most unusual concentration of mercury in the world and has provided a third of the entire world production of mercury (Hg). Nowadays, this study area is covered with cinnabar mine tailings and village habitants use it for livestock. The area has elevated Hg concentrations of natural origin and from human activities. Soil parameters are similar throughout the study area; however, data reveal high variability in total and available Hg concentrations in soils, making it difficult to establish a tendency. Marrubium vulgare L.has been studied due to its high presence in the field plot, and there is no evidence of phenological toxicity. Furthermore, in spite of elevated Hg concentrations, a good biological activity is tested in the soil samples. All these characteristics, spatial variation, high Hg concentration, good biological activity, enhance the peculiarity of the study area for studies involving Hg.
Key words: Mercury / soil / Marrubium vulgare L / physical-chemical soil parameters / microbial biomass carbon / soil microbiological activity
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.