John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

A soil quality index for reclaimed mine soils

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The quality of soils found in mines is low if they do not receive any reclamation treatment. To our knowledge, there are no still equations to evaluate the quality of metal contaminated mine soils after the application of the reclamation treatments mainly in use today (planting vegetation and amending with wastes). Therefore, the purposes of the present study was (i) to propose a method for developing soil quality indexes (SQI), (ii) to develop the SQI for two types of mine soils (settling pond and mine tailing) reclaimed by planting trees and/or amending with wastes and (iii) to assess the quality of these soils under field conditions. The results obtained after the use of an SQI developed for reclaimed mine soils through the selection of a soil quality index with a factor analysis and the totalling of the scores of the selected variables revealed that this method is a valid tool for developing SQIs. Applying this index with reclaimed mine soils showed that the untreated sites had a very low quality and that the treatment that most improved them was amending with wastes (sewage sludges and paper mill residues). We recommend the periodic addition of sewage sludges and paper mill residues to degraded sites as they increase the quality of soils but the effect decrease over time. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2013 SETAC

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