Use of geochemical fingerprints to trace sediment sources in an agriculture catchment of Argentina

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Romina Torres Astorga, Yanina Garcias, Gisela Borgatello, Hugo Velasco, Román Padilla, Gerd Dercon, Lionel Mabit


Soil erosion and associated sediment redistribution are key environmental problems in Central Argentina. Specific land uses and management practices, such as intensive grazing and crop cultivation, are considered significantly driving and accelerating these processes.
This research focuses on the identification of suitable soil tracers from hot spots of land degradation and sediment fate in an agricultural catchment of central Argentina with erodible loess soils. Using Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (EDXRF), elemental concentrations were determined and further used as soil tracers for geochemical characterization.
The best set of tracers were identified using two artificial mixtures composed of known proportions of soil sources collected in different sites having distinctive soil uses. Phosphorus, iron, calcium, barium, and titanium were identified for obtaining the best suitable reconstruction of the source proportions in the artificial mixtures. Then, these elements as well as the total organic carbon were applied for pinpointing critical hot spots of erosion within the studied catchment. Feedlots were identified to be the main source of sediments, river banks and dirt roads together are the second most important source. This investigation provides key information for optimizing soil conservation strategies and selecting land management practices and land uses which do not generate great contribution of sediment, preventing pollution of the waterways of the region.



Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources and Conservation, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


dispersive X-ray fluorescence, fingerprinting, geochemical elements, mixing models, soil erosion


Published: 2020-03-05 01:29


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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