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Applied and Environmental Soil Science
Volume 2019, Article ID 6432571, 12 pages
Research Article

Using Spatial Regression to Model Potentially Toxic Metal (PTM) Mobility Based on Physicochemical Soil Properties

Department of Geosciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City 37614, TN, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Arpita Nandi; ude.uste@idnan

Received 3 January 2019; Accepted 10 April 2019; Published 4 August 2019

Academic Editor: Claudio Cocozza

Copyright © 2019 Melissa A. Magno et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mining processes generate waste rock, tailings, and slag that can increase potentially toxic metal (PTM) concentrations in soils. Un-reclaimed, abandoned mine sites are particularly prone to leaching these contaminants, which may accumulate and pose significant environmental and public health concerns. The characterization and spatial delineation of PTMs in soils is vital for risk assessment and soil reclamation. Bumpus Cove, a once active mining district of eastern Tennessee, is home to at least 47 abandoned, un-reclaimed mines, all permanently closed by the 1950s. This study evaluated soil physicochemical properties, determined the spatial extent of PTMs (Zn, Mn, Cu, Pb, and Cd), and examined the influence of soil properties on PTM distribution in Bumpus Cove, TN. Soil samples (n = 52) were collected from a 0.67 km2 study area containing 6 known abandoned Pb, Zn, and Mn mines at the headwaters of Bumpus Cove Creek. Samples were analyzed for Zn, Mn, Cu, Pb, and Cd by microwave-assisted acid digestion and flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS) (12–1,354 mg/kg Zn, 6–2,574 mg/kg Mn, 1–65 mg/kg Cu, 33–2,271 mg/kg Pb, and 7–40 mg/kg Cd). Of the measured PTMs, only Pb exceeds permissible limits in soils. In addition to the PTM analyses, soil physical (texture, moisture content, and bulk density) and chemical (pH, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and total organic carbon (TOC)) properties were evaluated. Spatially weighted multivariate regression models developed for all PTMs using soil physicochemical properties produced improved results over ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models. Models for Zn (R2 = 0.71) and Pb (R2 = 0.69) retained covariates epH, moisture content, and CEC (Zn), and pH and CEC (Pb). This study will help define PTM concentration and transport and provide a reference for state and local entities responsible for contaminant monitoring in Bumpus Cove, TN.