Atmospheric deposition of metals emitted by anthropogenic activities has been a significant source of metal loading into soils in the United States for more than 200 years. Based on research at the Susquehanna Shale Hills CZO, we began investigating Mn inputs to soils in the northeastern U.S.A. from widespread atmospheric Mn emissions from steel manufacturers and coal-burning power plants. Total Mn inputs to Shale Hills soils at ridgetops are calculated to be 42 mg Mn/cm2. In order to more directly evaluate the link between Mn emissions and Mn enrichment in soils, we are now investigating soils around a ferromanganese refinery in Marietta, Ohio that is currently the largest emission source of manganese (Mn) into the atmosphere in the U.S.A. Particulate emissions during production are up to 31-34% percent manganese oxide (MnO) by weight. These particles range in diameter from 0.05 to 0.4 μm, making them both highly mobile and respirable. In order to assess the role of soils in Marietta as sinks for atmospherically-derived Mn, a series of soil cores have been collected from a range of distances (0.5 - 35 km) from the refinery. Mn is enriched at the soil surface up to 8 times above parent material composition sampled at 1 m depth near the source and decreases as a function of distance. Total mass of Mn added to soils per unit land area integrated over the soil depth core was calculated to be 50 mg Mn/cm2 near the refinery. In contrast, 10 mg Mn/cm2 was lost from the soil profile at a distance of 35 km from the facility. Enrichment of chromium (Cr) up to 3 times was also found in surface soils near the refinery, consistent with the production of ferrochromium at the Marietta plant. Further trace element analyses are being used to fingerprint atmospheric inputs from the refinery into the soil. Models of Mn addition to soils are also being developed and compared to known rates of emission.
Carter, M., Herndon, E., Brantley, S.L. (2012): Soils as a Record of Anthropogenic Metal Inputs: From Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory to Marietta, Ohio. AGU Annual Fall Conference Proceedings.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.