Environmental Research193: 110552..
Autores/as: Gómez-Armesto, A., Méndez-López, M., Pontevedra-Pombal, X., García-Rodeja, E., Alonso-Vega, F., Arias-Estévez, M., Nóvoa-Muñoz, J.C.
Mercury content of twelve podzols from NW Spain was studied to elucidate the main soil properties involved in the Hg accumulation of these soils. The highest average Hg concentrations (HgT) were found in the Bh and Bs horizons (64 and 105 μg kg−1), whereas the lowest occurred in the E horizons (15 μg kg−1). Moderate values of HgT were obtained for the A and C horizons (38 and 52 μg kg−1). The Hg enrichment factors revealed that the predominant origin of Hg in these soils is the atmosphere instead of the parent material. As it was shown by the PCA performed (which explained 82% of the variance of the data), the main soil characteristics involved in the pedogenetic processes of the studied podzols are organic matter and Al and Fe compounds. The stepwise linear regressions made described between 54% and 84% of the predicted Hg depending on the soil horizon. Besides a complex ensemble of biogeochemical reactions involved in the balance between input and outputs of Hg, the most influencing variable in the A horizons was organic C, moderate stability Al-humus complexes in the E horizons, Fe-humus complexes and pHw in the Bh horizons, Al-humus compounds in the Bs horizons and crystalline Al and Fe compounds in the C horizons. Therefore, Hg is mobilized from the A and E horizons bound to dissolved organic matter and precipitated in the illuvial horizons due to the saturation of the organic matter with metals. The immobilization of Hg in the subsuperficial horizons of podzols leads to different environmental benefits derived from the removal of Hg from the A horizons, more exposed to climate-induced and land use/cover changes that could potentially modify the dynamics of Hg in those superficial horizons.