Elemental Concentration in Serpentinitic Soils over Ultramafic Bedrock in Sierra Bermeja (Southern Spain)
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Ultramafic rocksMediterranean peridotitesSerpentinitePotentially toxic metalsGeomorphoedaphic unitsSierra Bermeja
Romero-Freire, A.; Olmedo-Cobo, J.A.; Gómez Zotano, J. Elemental Concentration in Serpentinitic Soils over Ultramafic Bedrock in Sierra Bermeja (Southern Spain). Minerals 2018, 8, 447; doi:10.3390/min8100447.
SponsorshipThis research was funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of the Government of Spain through the ULTRAFORESTS (Ref. CSO2013-47713-P) and PALEOPINSAPO (CSO2017-83576-P) Projects.
Although the presence of potentially toxic metals in soils is normally associated with human soil pollution, these elements also appear naturally in environments in which the lithological base contains ultramafic rocks such as peridotites. Serpentinitic soils tend to develop on substrates of this kind, often containing metals with few or no known biological functions, which in some cases are toxic for most plants. This study assessed the level of potentially toxic metals and other elements in an endorheic basin discovered in Sierra Bermeja (Southern Spain), one of the largest peridotite outcrops on Earth. In this location—of particular interest given that basins of this kind are very rare on peridotites—six geomorphoedaphic sub-units on three different substrates were identified. The distribution of microelements in these sub-units was analyzed, and stratified random sampling was performed to identify the major ions with essential functions for living organisms and the potentially toxic metals. The lowest values for macronutrients appeared in the soils formed on ultramafic materials. When analyzing the load of potentially toxic metals, no significant differences were detected between the soils formed on serpentinite and peridotite substrates, although different values were obtained in the soils formed over acidic rocks.