Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 12, pp 8929–8941 | Cite as

Comparison of soil solution sampling techniques to assess metal fluxes from contaminated soil to groundwater

  • F. Coutelot
  • V. Sappin-Didier
  • C. Keller
  • O. Atteia


The unsaturated zone plays a major role in elemental fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. A representative chemical analysis of soil pore water is required for the interpretation of soil chemical phenomena and particularly to assess Trace Elements (TEs) mobility. This requires an optimal sampling system to avoid modification of the extracted soil water chemistry and allow for an accurate estimation of solute fluxes. In this paper, the chemical composition of soil solutions sampled by Rhizon® samplers connected to a standard syringe was compared to two other types of suction probes (Rhizon® + vacuum tube and Rhizon® + diverted flow system). We investigated the effects of different vacuum application procedures on concentrations of spiked elements (Cr, As, Zn) mixed as powder into the first 20 cm of 100-cm columns and non-spiked elements (Ca, Na, Mg) concentrations in two types of columns (SiO2 sand and a mixture of kaolinite + SiO2 sand substrates). Rhizon® was installed at different depths. The metals concentrations showed that (i) in sand, peak concentrations cannot be correctly sampled, thus the flux cannot be estimated, and the errors can easily reach a factor 2; (ii) in sand + clay columns, peak concentrations were larger, indicating that they could be sampled but, due to sorption on clay, it was not possible to compare fluxes at different depths. The different samplers tested were not able to reflect the elemental flux to groundwater and, although the Rhizon® + syringe device was more accurate, the best solution remains to be the use of a lysimeter, whose bottom is kept continuously at a suction close to the one existing in the soil.


Soil solution Sampling methods Solute flux Rhizon Column experiment 



This study was funded by Innovasol Foundation and ADEME.


  1. Armstrong, A. C., Leeds Harrison, P. B., Harris, G. L., & Catt, J. A. (1999). Measurement of solute fluxes in macroporous soils: techniques, problems and precision. Soil Use and Management, 15(4), 240–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beesley, L., Moreno-Jiménez, E., Clemente, R., Lepp, N., & Dickinson, N. (2010). Mobility of arsenic, cadmium and zinc in a multi-element contaminated soil profile assessed by in-situ soil pore water sampling, column leaching and sequential extraction. Environmental Pollution, 158(1), 155–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bloem, E., Hogervorst, F. A. N., & de Rooij, G. H. (2009). A field experiment with variable-suction multi-compartment samplers to measure the spatio-temporal distribution of solute leaching in an agricultural soil. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 105(3–4), 131–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Di Bonito, M. (2005). Trace elements in soil pore water: a comparison of sampling methods. University of Nottingham.Google Scholar
  5. Duquette, M.-C. (2010). Mesure de la concentration en métaux traces dans la solution de sol par la microlysimétrie. Université de Montréal: Faculté des études supérieures et postdoctorales.Google Scholar
  6. Gaudet, J. P., Jégat, H., Vachaud, G., & Wierenga, P. J. (1977). Solute transfer, with exchange between mobile and stagnant water, through unsaturated sand. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 41(4), 665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gish, T. J., & Kung, K.-J. S. (2007). Procedure for quantifying a solute flux to a shallow perched water table. Geoderma, 138(1–2), 57–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Heinrichs, H., Böttcher, G., Brumsack, H.-J., & Pohlmann, M. (1996). Squeezed soil-pore solutes—a comparison to lysimeter samples and percolation experiments. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 89(1), 189–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kasteel, R., Pütz, T., & Vereecken, H. (2007). An experimental and numerical study on flow and transport in a field soil using zero tension lysimeters and suction plates. European Journal of Soil Science, 58(3), 632–645. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2389.2006.00850.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kowalik, P. J. (2006). Drainage and capillary rise components in water balance of alluvial soils. Agricultural Water Management, 86(1–2), 206–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. McGuire, P. E., & Lowery, B. (1994). Monitoring drainage solution concentrations and flux in unsaturated soil with a porous cup sampler and soil moisture sensors. Ground water.Google Scholar
  12. Moreno-Jiménez, E., Beesley, L., Lepp, N. W., Dickinson, N. M., Hartley, W., & Clemente, R. (2011). Field sampling of soil pore water to evaluate trace element mobility and associated environmental risk. Environmental Pollution, 159(10).Google Scholar
  13. Reynolds, B., Stevens, P. A., Hughes, S., & Brittain, S. A. (2004). Comparison of field techniques for sampling soil solution in an upland peatland. Soil Use and Management, 20(4), 454–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Stutter, M. I., Deeks, L. K., & Billett, M. F. (2005). Transport of conservative and reactive tracers through a naturally structured upland podzol field lysimeter. Journal of Hydrology, 300(1–4), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Takahashi, Y., Minai, Y., Ambe, S., Makide, Y., & Ambe, F. (1999). Comparison of adsorption behavior of multiple inorganic ions on kaolinite and silica in the presence of humic acid using the multitracer technique. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 63(6), 815–836.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Zhu, Y., Fox, R. H., & Toth, J. D. (2002). Leachate collection efficiency of zero-tension pan and passive capillary fiberglass wick lysimeters. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 66(1), 37–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Coutelot
    • 1
    • 4
  • V. Sappin-Didier
    • 2
  • C. Keller
    • 3
  • O. Atteia
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.ENSEGID, EA4592 G&EPessacFrance
  2. 2.UMR TCEM, INRA, Centre de recherche Bordeaux—AquitaineVillenave d’Ornon CedexFrance
  3. 3.CEREGE, Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, UMR AMUI-CNRS 7330—Technopôle de l’Environnement Arbois-MéditerranéeAix-en-Provence, Cedex 4France
  4. 4.Fondation InnovaSolPessacFrance

Personalised recommendations