Wilson C, Cresser M & Davidson D (2006) Sequential element extraction of soils from abandoned farms: an investigation of the partitioning of anthropogenic element inputs from historic land use. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 8 (4), pp. 439-444. https://doi.org/10.1039/b516614d
Enhanced soil element concentrations may serve as indicators not only of modern pollution, but also of former historic and/or pre-historic human activity. However, there is little consensus over the most appropriate means of extraction for identifying chemical signatures of modern and archaeological pollution. This study addressed this question by using a 5-step sequential extraction to examine the partitioning of elements within the soil. Samples were taken from known functional areas (hearth, house, byre, arable, and grazing areas) on a 19th century abandoned croft (small farm). A hot nitric acid digest and five-stage sequential extraction method were used to examine the partitioning of elements in soil and identify the current elemental distribution of anthropogenic contamination. The results indicate that although a significant proportion of Ca tends to be bound with exchangeable and weak acid soluble fractions, in the hearth and house areas there is also a significant proportion held within the recalcitrant residue. Pb concentrations tend to be associated with organic matter, ammonium oxalate extractable fractions and the residue, whilst Zn generally has a more even partitioning between the six soil fractions. The implications of this for extraction methodology are element and soil specific. However, the presence of a significant proportion of anthropogenically significant elements (including Ca, Pb, Zn, Sr, and Ba) within the resistant residue suggests the use of only a weak acid or an exchangeable fraction extraction would result in the loss of information from contamination resulting from former human activity. Hence, a total or pseudo-total extraction method is recommended for this type of study.
Journal of Environmental Monitoring: Volume 8, Issue 4