Soil mercury spatial variations in the fault zone and corresponding influence factors

  • Spatial variations of soil mercury in fault zone were studied
  • The factors affecting thesoil mercury concentration were discussed
  • Concentration of soil mercury were analyzed by diffusion mechanism

Field measurements were performed using a LUMEX RA-915+ mercury vapour analyser to determine the gaseous mercury (Hg) concentrations in the soils of the North China plain, Loess Plateau, Changping District, Haiyuan fault zone, and north Beiluntai (BLT) fault at the edge of south Tianshan. The factors affecting the soil gas Hg concentration, such as the sampler type, test hole depth, soil characteristics, fault characteristics, and the mechanisms of their influence are discussed in terms of a gas diffusion equation. The results show that (1) the soil gas Hg concentration is affected mainly by the time lapse between the hole drilling and measurement, test hole depth and sampler shape; (2) the measured soil gas Hg concentration agrees well with the gas diffusion equation analytical solution, and the curve shape is closely related to the degree of Hg enrichment in the soil and the soil density; and (3) the soil gas concentration in the fracture zone is largely affected by the rock type, tectonics, the fault slip rate, the degree of fault locking, the development degree of fractures between the hanging wall and footwall, and the degree of fracture locking because these factors can alter the Hg upward transport channels and degree of surface enrichment. The effects of these factors on the diffusion coefficient in shallow soil layers are insignificant. The diffusion coefficient D depends on the particle size, density and porosity of the soil materials.

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