28 Jan 2022
28 Jan 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Meso- and microplastic distribution and spatial connections to heavy metal contaminations in highly cultivated and urbanised floodplain soilscapes – a case study from the Nidda River (Germany)

Collin J. Weber1, Christian Opp1, Julia A. Prume2,3, Martin Koch2, and Peter Chifflard1 Collin J. Weber et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Philipps-University Marburg, 35032, Germany
  • 2Department of Physics, Philipps-University Marburg, 35032, Germany
  • 3Bayreuth Graduate School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences (BAYNAT), University of Bayreuth, 95447, Germany

Abstract. Floodplain soilscapes act as temporary sinks in the environment and are nowadays affected by multiple contaminant accumulations and exposures, including heavy metals and (micro-)plastics. Despite increasing knowledge of the occurrence and behaviour of (micro-)plastics at the interface between aquatic and terrestrial systems, there are still major uncertainties about the spatial distribution of plastics, their sources and deposition, as well as spatial relationships with other contaminants. Our recent case study addresses these questions, using the example of a river system ranging from rural to urban areas. Based on a geospatial sampling approach we obtained data about soil properties, heavy metal contents via ICP-MS analyses, and particle-based (171 µm–52 mm) plastic contents, analysed using sodium chloride density separation, visual fluorescence identification and ATR-FTIR analysis. We found plastic contents of 0.00–35.82 p kg−1 and heavy metal enrichment (Enrichment factor 1.1–5.9). Levels of both contaminations occur in the lower range of known concentrations and show a different spatial distribution along the river course and in the floodplain cross-section. Furthermore, we found that plastic enrichment occurs in the uppermost soil layers, while heavy metal enrichment is located at greater depths, indicating different sources and deposition periods. Finally, direct short to long-term anthropogenic impacts, like floodplain restoration or tillage may affect plastic enrichments, raising questions for future floodplain management.

Collin J. Weber et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on soil-2022-1', Zacharias Steinmetz, 18 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on CC1', Collin J. Weber, 22 Feb 2022
  • RC1: 'Comment on soil-2022-1', Anonymous Referee #1, 02 Mar 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Collin J. Weber, 02 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on soil-2022-1', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Mar 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Collin J. Weber, 08 Mar 2022
  • EC1: 'Comment on soil-2022-1', Maria Jesus Gutierrez Gines, 10 Mar 2022

Collin J. Weber et al.

Collin J. Weber et al.


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Short summary
Plastics, as new contaminations in soils, occur within also in near-river floodplain soils. Until know it remains unclear, how microplastics are spatially distributed within floodplain soils, how they are reaching those soils and if they interact with other pollutants. Within this study, we found both plastics and heavy metal enrichments within the studied floodplain soils. Both contaminants have a different spatial distribution, indicating different sources and periods of soil contamination.