Spatial distribution of heavy metals and their potential sources in the soil of Yellow River Delta: a traditional oil field in China

  • Xiongyi Miao
  • Yupei Hao
  • Fawang Zhang
  • Shengzhang Zou
  • Siyuan YeEmail author
  • Zhouqing XieEmail author
Original Paper


In this study, soil samples were collected from different layers throughout the whole Yellow River Delta (YERD), in north China. The total concentration of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) was determined to demonstrate their spatial distribution and pollution status in different layers of soils throughout the whole YERD. The obtained results suggested a relatively low contamination of heavy metals as observed through the evaluation of CF and RI. The potential ecological risk of Hg is not so severe. Also, the maximum potential threat could be noted only from Cd instead of Hg based on the widespread degree of pollution, which breaks traditional concept that oil production escalates mercury in the soil. The obtained value of EF proves a higher enrichment of heavy metals in the surface soil than in the layer of deep soil induced by human activities. Human activities only slightly elevate As, Cd and Pb. As has the strongest ability downward to lower layer, followed by Cd and Pb in YERD. The source of heavy metals predominantly stems from natural deposits, and their concentrations are controlled by the nature of their association with the mineral. Overall, it shows that the petroleum industry instead of agriculture could be treated as an important source to bring anthropogenic heavy metals in the soils. The human influence only elevated the concentration of heavy metals in the soil of the areas corresponding to the intensive production of oil. In this study some of the measures have also been proposed to avoid and control soil pollution as well as the health risk caused by heavy metals.


Yellow River Delta Soil Heavy metal elements Contamination assessment Oil field 



The present study was supported by Guangxi Natural Science Foundation (2018GXNSFBA138051), National Key Research and Development Project of China (2017YFC0406104), China Geological Survey Project (DD20160302 and DD20160301), Ministry of Nature and Resources Public Welfare Industry Research Project China 201111023 and China Academy of Geological Sciences Basic Research Projects (JYYWF201833, YYWF201638). The authors appreciate the comments given by Professor Lianwen Liu from Nanjing University. Special thanks to my beloved parents Guoping Liu and YingZhong Miao.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019
Corrected Publication 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Polar Environment, School of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Coastal Wetlands Biogeosciences, China Geologic Survey, Qingdao Institute of Marine Geology and Laboratory for Marine GeologyQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Karst Dynamics, MNR&GZARInstitute of Karst Geology, CAGSGuilinChina

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