Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Urban Soils in a Historically Industrial City: Concentration and Biogeochemical Speciation of Trace Metals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Maxim, Alexandra (2019) Urban Soils in a Historically Industrial City: Concentration and Biogeochemical Speciation of Trace Metals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

[img] PDF
Restricted to University of Pittsburgh users only until 25 September 2024.

Download (8MB) | Request a Copy


The distribution of heavy metals in industrial cities is not well documented. As a result, fundamental details such as the “background” concentration of trace metals in urban environments are poorly constrained. Part of this gap results from a strong focus on the mapping of lead (Pb) contamination near roads and residences. This thesis focuses on mapping the distribution of urban relevant trace metals: Pb, zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) and cadmium (Cd), within the City of Pittsburgh. A gridded set of 56 soil samples were collected and metal concentrations measured. In addition, a sequential extraction was used to determine the metal distribution among exchangeable, reducible and oxidizable biogeochemical phases in these samples. These analyses revealed distinct spatial patterns: Pb, Cd, and Zn concentrations are elevated in the eastern portion of the study area, particularly in low-lying areas along paleochannels formed following the last glacial maximum. The metal enrichment of the soil in these low-lying areas likely results from transport of industrial contaminants by dominant winds and the focusing of contaminants by temperature inversions. Using mixing analysis, contaminant sources were evaluated. Coking emissions were an important source of background metal contamination, particularly Cd. In addition, contributions from historical coal combustion and lead smelting influence soil metal mixtures. This analysis revealed that the industrial activities in the city of Pittsburgh contributes to the current metal enrichment that is observed in the soil across the city. This can inform urban development projects; planned redevelopment or remediation can avoid or anticipate contaminated areas (e.g. low-lying areas in the eastern part of the city).


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Maxim, Alexandraalm367@pitt.edualm367
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBain, Danieldbain@pitt.edudbain
Committee MemberAbbott, Markmabbott1@pitt.edumabbott1
Committee MemberWerne, Josefjwerne@pitt.edujwerne
Date: 25 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 July 2019
Approval Date: 25 September 2019
Submission Date: 8 August 2019
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 47
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Geology and Environmental Science
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: trace metals, urban soil, Pittsburgh
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2019 20:07
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:07


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item