Geochemistry of soils along a transect from Central Mexico to the Pacific Coast: a pilot study for continental-scale geochemical mapping

Applied Geochemistry
By: , and 



The Mexican Geological Survey (SGM), the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (INEGI) and the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi (UASLP) have established a multidisciplinary team with the objective of creating a national program of geochemical mapping of soils in Mexico. This is being done as part of the North American Soil Geochemical Landscapes Project in partnership with the US Geological Survey and the Geological Survey of Canada. As the first step, a pilot study was conducted over a transect that extends from the Mexico–US border near Ciudad Juarez in the north to the Pacific Ocean in the south. This pilot transect was conducted in two phases, and this paper presents results from the first phase, which sampled soils at about a 40-km spacing along a 730-km transect beginning in Central Mexico and ending at the Pacific Coast. Samples were collected from the A and C horizons at each site and 60 elements were analyzed. This pilot study demonstrates that geochemical mapping based on a 40-km spacing is adequate to identify broad-scale geochemical patterns. Geologic influence (i.e., soil parent material) was the most important factor influencing the distribution of elements along the transect, followed by the influence of regional mineralization. The study also showed that influence by human activities over the transect is minimal except possibly in large mining districts. A comparison of element abundance in the A horizon with the environmental soil guidelines in Mexico showed that the natural concentrations of the studied soils were lower than the established threshold for soil restoration with the exception of V and As. The former had a median value (75 mg/kg) approximately equal to the value established in Mexico for soil restoration in agricultural and residential lands (78 mg/kg), and the latter had three values higher than the 22 mg/kg threshold for soil restoration in agricultural and residential lands. These cases demonstrate the importance of knowing the national- and regional-scale geochemistry of Mexican soils as a support for the decision-making process, particularly for the proper formulation and application of soil guidelines designed to protect human and ecosystem health.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Geochemistry of soils along a transect from Central Mexico to the Pacific Coast: a pilot study for continental-scale geochemical mapping
Series title Applied Geochemistry
DOI 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2009.04.012
Volume 24
Issue 8
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher International Association of Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry
Publisher location New York, NY
Description 13 p.
First page 1416
Last page 1428
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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