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Environmental applications of soil magnetism for sustainable land use

English title Environmental applications of soil magnetism for sustainable land use
Applicant Hirt Ann M.
Number 110723
Funding scheme SCOPES
Research institution Institut für Geophysik ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geophysics
Start/End 01.11.2005 - 31.12.2008
Approved amount 67'924.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences

Keywords (5)

Soils; Magnetic properties; pedogenesis; environment; pollution

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
The primary goal of this project is to evaluate the influence of environmental factors - natural and anthropogenic - on the magnetic properties of soils. In order to accomplish this goal, it is first necessary to have a good understanding of how magnetic properties vary within a typical soil profile. Both the Swiss and Bulgarian magnetic groups have already started to put together databanks on soils magnetic properties from their respective countries. The Swiss database covers the magnetic properties of top soils, taken from the pedothek of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), which covers a 5000 square km area between Altdorf, OW and the Swiss Italian border. The Bulgarian data base consists of topsoils from non-cultivated grassland and forest soils in Eastern and Northern Bulgaria. The data cover around 4600 square km in a regular 4 km grid and transect from North to South away from the Danube river until the Fore Balkan. The Bulgarian partners have also applied magnetic methods for delineation of anthropogenic pollution of sediments from the Danube River and soils in Eastern Bulgaria. In the first part of this project we will define which magnetic parameters should be compiled from the two groups for a common data bank in order to determine if there is a generic relationship between specific soil types and magnetic properties. Magnetic properties are mainly influenced by iron mineralogy. Although the magnetic mineralogy is strongly influenced by the parent rock on which the soil forms, pedogenic processes also affect the iron phases. We will investigate the importance of these two factors for specific soil types. Soils from the Bulgarian Antarctic Base will be also included as an example for incipient soils in an extreme environment. The second part of the project will examine the mechanisms that influence the magnetic properties in a soil profile. For example, magnetic enhancement has been observed in many topsoils, and a myriad of explanations have been reported in the literature. These different hypotheses will be tested for specific soil types. In the final part of the project we propose to evaluate how environmental factors influence the magnetic properties. This will include the examination of climatic factors (e.g., annual precipitation, wind) and anthropogenic factors (e.g., land use, atmospheric fallout or pollutants). Thus, the applied output of the project will contribute towards the practical development of an effective tool, based on magnetic measurements, for preliminary environmental screening of potentially polluted areas, that can serve for further decision-making on geochemical sampling strategies.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
113048 Alternating Gradient Force Magnetometer 01.06.2007 R'EQUIP