Solubility, partitioning, and activity of copper-contaminated soils in a semiarid region

Pedro Mondaca, Alexander Neaman, Sébastien Sauvé, Eduardo Salgado, Manuel Bravo

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26 Scopus citations


We studied the fate of Cu in contaminated semiarid soils from two areas with different mining activities in central Chile. Several regression models were evaluated to use soil physicochemical characteristics to predict solubility, partitioning, and activity of Cu. Furthermore, we hypothesize that the type of Cu mining compound (smelter dust versus tailing sand) can be another important variable determining the bioavailability of Cu. In the studied neutral to alkaline soils, soil organic matter (SOM) enhanced Cu solubility most probably through the formation of organic complexes with dissolved organic C (DOC). As a consequence, Cu solubility and partitioning were better explained by DOC concentration than by SOM content. On the other hand, Cu activity was mainly related to soil pH and was not affected by DOC. Although we found differences between the two study areas, Cu solubility and partitioning might not be as dependent upon the origin of the Cu mining compound as upon other physiochemical characteristics that influence the concentration and characteristics of DOC. Total Cu, pH, and DOC would be the most important variables to consider on Cu solubility, however, data about the nature of SOM may certainly improve the prediction models. Thus, multiple binding site models between Cu and DOC should be studied to improve predictions of Cu solubility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-459
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Agricultural soils
  • Bioavailability
  • Copper compound
  • Mining
  • Smelting


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