Assessment of Concentration and Distribution of Contaminants Using Magnetic Susceptibility Measurements

Document Type : Original Research Paper


Department of Geology, University of Lucknow, Lucknow-226007, India



Magnetic properties are used throughout the world to measure the concentration of (ferri) magnetic minerals in soil, sediment and dust. These minerals in soil come from a variety of sources, including air-borne particulate pollution, parent rock and paedogenesis. Changes in the content of magnetic minerals, as well as their spatial and vertical distribution in soil profiles are caused by human activity. Magnetic minerals are distinguished by their affinity for other elements found in soil, such as heavy metal. As a result, magnetic susceptibility has been widely used as an approximation of heavy metal contamination in soil. The current study was conducted in a tropical deciduous forest in Central Uttar Pradesh, namely the kukrail reserve forest in Lucknow to assess heavy metal contamination levels caused by various anthropogenic activities and to confirm the utility of using MS surveying in these types of studies. The current study was conducted at two sites viz. agricultural area and forest area because these sites are the most contaminated ones. Significant correlation between heavy metal concentration and magnetic susceptibility with p<0.005 is noticed for Co, Cr, Pb, Zn, Cu and Fe of agricultural area. Similarly in forest area significant correlation exists between Cr, Ni, Pb and Zn.  The χLF values show a significant correlation with the concentration of heavy metals except for Cu and Cr in forest area and Pb and Zn in agricultural area. In comparison to the methodologies of chemical analysis, the χLF measurement techniques provide us with lower cost and less time consuming method for identification of possible soil pollution.


Adriano,D.C.(2001). Trace Elements in Terrestrial Environments; Biogeochemistry. Bioavailability and Risks of Metals. 2nd ed, Springer, New York, pp 866.
Bityukova, L., Scholger, R. and Birke, M. (1999). Magnetic susceptibility as indicator of environmental pollution of soils in Tallinn. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Part A: Solid Earth and Geodesy.,24(9), 829–835. 
Chan, L.S., Yim, W., Liu, Y.S., Huang, G. andYeung, C.H. (1997). Application of magnetic susceptibility to the identification of the Holocene/Pre-Holocene boundary in Quaternary shelf sediments (abstract). EOS Trans Am Geophys Union.,77,163.
Dearing, J.A., Dann, R.J.L., Hay, K., Lees, J.A., Loveland, P.J., Maher, B.A. and O’Grady, K. (1996). Frequency-dependent susceptibility measurements of environmental materials. Geophys. J. Int.,124, 228–240.
Dekkers, M.J. and Pieterson, H.S. (1992). Magnetic properties of low-Ca flyash: a rapid tool for Fe-assessment and a survey for potential hazardous elements. Mater Res Soc Symp Proc., 245,37–47.
Evans, M.E. and Heller, F. (2003). Environmental Magnetism – Principles and Applications of Enviromagnetics.Academic Press. 299.
Goddu, S.R., Appel, E., Jordanova, D. andWehland, F. (2004).Magnetic properties of road dust from Visakhapatnam (India) — relationship to industrial pollution and road traffic. Phys. Chem. Earth., 29, 985–995.
Hanesch, M. and Scholger, R. (2002). Mapping of heavy metal loadings in soils by means of magnetic susceptibility measurements. Environmental Geology., 42,857–870. 
Hanesch, M. and Scholger, R. (2005). The influence of soil type on the magnetic susceptibility measured throughout soil profiles. Geophys. J. Int., 161,50–56. 
Heller, F., Liu, X., Liu, T. and Xu, T. (1991).  Magnetic susceptibility of loess in China. Earth and Planetary Science Letters.,103(1-4),301–310. 
Hoffmann, V., Knab, M. and Appel, E. (1999). Magnetic susceptibility mapping of roadside pollution.  J Geochem Explor., 66, 313–326. 
Hooda, P.S.and Naidu, R. (2004).Speciation, bioavailability and toxicity relationships ofcontaminants in the terrestrial environment, in: Proceedings of International Contaminated Site. Remediation Conference, Adelaide, South Australia. pp 15–18.
Jordanova, D., Hoffmann, V. and  Fehr, K.T. (2004).Mineral magnetic characterization ofanthropogenic magnetic phases in the Danube river sediments. Earth Planet Sci Lett.,221, 71–89.
Kapicka, A., Petrovsky, E., Ustjak, S. and Machackova, K. (1999).Proxy mapping of fly-ash pollution of soils around a coal-burning power plant: a case study in the Czech Republic. J. Geochem  Explor., 66,291–297.
Kim, K.R., Owens, G.and Naidu, R. (2010). Effect of root-induced chemical changes on dynamics and plant uptake of heavy metals in rhizosphere soils. Pedosphere.,20,494–504.
Kiikkila, O. (2003). Heavy-metal pollution and remediation of forest soil around the Harjavalta Cu-Ni smelter, in SW Finland. Silva Fennica.,37(3).
Li, X.D., Poon, C.S. andPui, S.L. (2001).Heavy metal contamination of urban soils and street dusts in Hong Kong.Appl Geochem.,16, 1361–1368.
Lu, S.G., Bai, S.Q. and Xue, Q.F. (2007).Magnetic properties as indicators of heavy metals pollution in urban topsoils: A case study from the city of Luoyang, China. Geophysical Journal International.,171, 568–580.
Moller, A., Muller, H.W., Abdullah, A., Abdelgawad, G. And Utermann, J. (2005).Urban soil pollution in Damascus, Syria: concentrations and patterns of heavy metals in the soils of the Damascus Ghouta. Geoderma., 124(1-2),63–71.
Muxworthy, A.R., Matzka, J. and Petersen, N. (2001).Comparison of magnetic parameters of urban atmospheric particulate matter with pollution and meteorological data. Atmospheric Environment., 35(26);4379–4386. 
Oancea, S., Foca, N. And Airinei, A. (2005). Effects of heavy metals on plant growth and photosynthetic activity. Analele Univ. Al. I. Cuza, 107–110.
Petrovsky, E. and Ellwood, B.B. (1999). Magnetic monitoring of pollution of air, land and waters. In: Maher, B.A., Thompson, R. (Eds.), Quaternary Climates, Environments and Magnetism. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. pp 279–322.
Petrovsky, E., Kapicka, A., Jordanova, N. and Boruvka, L. (2001). Magnetic properties of alluvial soils contaminated with lead, zinc and cadmium. Journal of Applied Geophysics., 48(2);127–136.
Rimmer, D., Vizard, C., Plessmulloli, T., Singleton, I., Air, V. andKeatinge, Z. (2006).Metal contamination of urban soils in the vicinity of a municipal waste incinerator: One source among many. Science of the Total Environment., 356(1-3), 207–216.
Sadiki,A., Faleh, A., Navas, A. andBouhlassa, S. (2009). Using magnetic susceptibility to assess soil degradation in the Eastern Rif, Morocco. Earth Surf Process Landf., 34,2057–2069.
Sangode, S.J., Vhatkar, K., Patil, S.K., Meshram, D.C., Pawar, N.J., Gudadhe, S.S., Badekar, A.G. andKumaravel, V. (2010). Magnetic Susceptibility Distribution in the Soils of Pune Metropolitan Region: Implications to Soil Magnetometry of Anthropogenic.Current Science., 98 (4), 516 -527. 
Sims, J.T. (1986).Soil pH Effects on the Distribution and Plant Availability of Manganese, Copper, and Zinc1. Soil Science Society of America Journal., 50(2),367.
Tahar, K. and Keltoum, B. (2011).Effects of heavy metals pollution in soil and plant in the industrial area, West Algeria. J. Korean Chem. Soc., 55, 1018-1023.
Wilcke, W., Muller, S., Kanchanakool, N. andZech, W. (1998). Urban soil contamination in Bangkok: heavy metal and aluminium partitioning in topsoils. Geoderma.,86(3-4),211–228.
Wong, J.W.C. andSelvam, A. (2006).Speciation of heavy metals during co-composting of sewage sludge with lime. Chemosphere.,63(6), 980–986. 
WHO.(2004).Guidelines for drinking water quality. Third edition. Volume 1: Recommendations Geneva.
Yongming, H., Peixuan, D., Junji, C. and Posmentier, E.S. (2006). Multivariate analysis of heavy metal contamination in urban dusts of Xi’an, Central China. Sci. Total Environ., 355,176 – 186.