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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 859; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080859

Geochemical Background and Baseline Values Determination and Spatial Distribution of Heavy Metal Pollution in Soils of the Andes Mountain Range (Cajamarca-Huancavelica, Peru)

1
Department of Soil Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, University of Salamanca, Avenue Filiberto Villalobos, 119, 37007 Salamanca, Spain
2
Department of Geology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Salamanca, Plaza de la Merced s/n., 37008 Salamanca, Spain
3
Department of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology—IRNASA (C.S.I.C.), Calle Cordel de Merinas 40, 37008 Salamanca, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 June 2017 / Revised: 19 July 2017 / Accepted: 21 July 2017 / Published: 31 July 2017
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Abstract

Concentrations of seven heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, and Zn) and one metalloid (As) as well as various parameters (pH, organic carbon, granulometric analysis and cation exchange capacity) were analyzed in 77 soil samples collected in the mining areas of La Zanja and Colquirrumi (Department of Cajamarca) and Julcani (Department of Huancavelica). Our study proposed geochemical baseline values for heavy metals in a natural region (La Zanja) from samples collected during the period of the environmental impact study (2006), that is, from an earlier period which occurred at the beginning of the exploitation of the current gold mine. The baseline values obtained were as follows: 8.26 mg kg−1 for Cr; 56.97 mg kg−1 for Ni; 22, 20 mg kg−1 for the Cu; 47.42 mg kg−1 for Zn; 27.50 mg kg−1 for As; 4.36 mg kg−1 for Cd; 4.89 mg kg−1 for Hg, and 44.87 mg kg−1 for Pb. Through the use of different indices of heavy metal contamination (geo-accumulation index (Igeo), improved Nemerow index (IIN) and potential ecological risk index (RI)), the degree of pollution caused by mining activities in two areas, Colquirrumi and Julcani, which have a high density of mining sites in operation, was determined. The values obtained from these indices indicated that the Colquirrumi region was the most contaminated, followed by Julcani. The area of La Zanja, despite being free of mining operations, presented slight diffuse pollution. Several positive correlations were obtained, with a high level of significance, between pH, organic carbon content, cation exchange capacity, and the Cr, Pb and Ni concentrations of the soils. The spatial distribution of the heavy metals was realized by means of the interpolation method of ordinary kriging. The results obtained and the experience gained in this work were necessary to facilitate the identification of soil contamination processes in high altitude areas of the Andes Western Cordillera (Peru) as a basis for taking appropriate measures when restoring soils, during mine closure processes, and to protect the quality of soil resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: pollution soil; heavy metals; spatial distribution; geochemical background; environmental quality; kriging; Andes Mountain Range of Peru pollution soil; heavy metals; spatial distribution; geochemical background; environmental quality; kriging; Andes Mountain Range of Peru
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Santos-Francés, F.; Martinez-Graña, A.; Alonso Rojo, P.; García Sánchez, A. Geochemical Background and Baseline Values Determination and Spatial Distribution of Heavy Metal Pollution in Soils of the Andes Mountain Range (Cajamarca-Huancavelica, Peru). Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 859.

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