Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 683–701 | Cite as

Identification of the artifact contribution to two urban Technosols by coupling a sorting test, chemical analyses, and a least absolute residual procedure

  • Thomas LenoirEmail author
  • Myriam Duc
  • Laurent Lassabatere
  • Katia Bellagh
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



In the context of urban extension, the depletion of natural resources for construction constitutes a crucial issue. Specifically, in the field of earthworks, the amounts of materials can be massive and pose the crucial problem of resource shortage. Therefore, the reuse of excavated urban soils from foundation layers as new earthwork construction materials appears to be a sustainable and promising solution. Before repurposing, a better knowledge of urban soils and their potential pollutant load is compulsory.

Materials and methods

In this paper, two soils excavated from the town of Paris are studied. After the stripping of their surface, to remove organic matter and surface pollution, the matrixes were submitted to elemental analyses using ICP-OES, C/S measurements, and XRF techniques. The elemental analyses were carried out on the whole materials, on three granulometric fractions (< 80 μm, 80–400 μm, > 400 μm) and on the families of artifacts (i.e., construction and demolition wastes, natural gravel, industrial wastes, magnetic, and non-magnetic slags) found in the soils. The combination of elemental analyses and a least absolute residual (LAR) procedure were used to quantify artifact contributions in all granulometric fractions.

Results and discussion

The soils exhibit evidence of anthropic inputs with high contents of pollutants under the forms of carbonaceous, sulfur mineral and metallic alloys. Carbonaceous and trace pollutions are concentrated in magnetic and non-magnetic slags, while sulfur and strontium pollutions are concentrated in gypsum components. In both cases, all the granulometric fractions (including whole material) can be retrieved as a combination of artifact composition, suggesting that the Technosols mainly result from the mixture of these artifacts. The amounts of natural material, gypsum components, and magnetic slags increase with the fineness of the fractions. In contrary, the amount of non-magnetic slags decrease with the fineness of the fractions and suggests that the processes of slag weathering are not similar: carbonaceous slags are more stable than iron-enriched slags.


The elemental analyses of granulometric fractions of soils and the artifacts using LAR analyses help in identifying the compositions of each granulometric fraction and give insight into the evolution of artifacts in the soil. These tools are also promising regarding the assessment of geo-environmental characteristics of urban soils, which in turn provides relevant information regarding management and reuse.


Carbon Construction and demolition wastes Excavated soils Least absolute regression Sulfur Trace elements Urban soils 



This work was supported by the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Spatial Planning and the French National Federation of Public Works. The manuscript benefited from comments and suggestions by two anonymous reviewers.

Supplementary material

11368_2018_2074_MOESM1_ESM.docx (73 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 73 kb)
11368_2018_2074_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (724 kb)
ESM 2 (XLSX 724 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IFSTTAR, GERS, GMGBouguenaisFrance
  2. 2.Université Paris-Est, IFSTTAR, GERS, SROMarne-la-ValléeFrance
  3. 3.Univ Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, CNRS, ENTPE, UMR5023 LEHNAVaulx-en-VelinFrance

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