Major element, trace element, nutrient, and radionuclide mobility in a mining by-product-amended soil

G. Douglas, J. Adeney, K. Johnston, L. Wendling, S. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the use of a mineral processing by-product, neutralized used acid (NUA), primarily composed of gypsum and Fe-oxyhydroxide, as a soil amendment. A 1489-d turf farm field trial assessed nutrient, trace element, and radionuclide mobility of a soil amended with ~5% by mass to a depth of 15 cm of NUA. Average PO4-P fluxes collected as subsoil leachates were 0.7 and 26.6 kg ha-1 yr-1 for NUA-amended and control sites, respectively, equating to a 97% reduction in PO4-P loss after 434 kg P ha-1 was applied. Total nitrogen fluxes in NUA-amended soil leachates were similarly reduced by 82%. Incorporation of NUA conferred major changes in leachate geochemistry with a diverse suite of trace elements depleted within NUA-amended leachates. Gypsum dissolution from NUA resulted in an increase from under- to oversaturation of the soil leachates for a range of Fe- and Ca-minerals including calcite and ferrihydrite, many of which have a well-documented ability to assimilate PO4-P and trace elements. Isotopic analysis indicated little Pb addition from NUA. Both Sr and Nd isotope results revealed that NUA and added fertilizer became an important source of Ca to leachate and turf biomass. Th e NUA-amended soils retained a range of U-Th series radionuclides, with little evidence of transfer to soil leachate or turf biomass. Calculated radioactivity dose rates indicate only a small increment due to NUA amendment. With increased nutrient, trace element, and solute retention, and increased productivity, a range of potential agronomic benefits may be conferred by NUA amendment of soils, in addition to the potential to limit offsite nutrient loss and eutrophication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1818-1834
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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