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Soil Explorer: Victorian Background Soil Database

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online resource
posted on 16.06.2020 by Suzie Reichman, Hannah Mikkonen
A publicly available database and interactive map presenting ambient background soil concentrations and other soil characteristics for Victoria, Australia.

The interactive portal include summary statistics for ambient background metal/element concentrations in surface (0.0-0.1m), sub-surface (0.3-0.6m) and deeper (>0.6m) soils, grouped by expected underlying geology and region. Naturally enriched ambient background concentrations of metals and elements have been reported in soils of Victoria, Australia. Where natural enrichment is not accurately distinguished from anthropogenic impacts, soils can be inappropriately categorised as “contaminated waste”; resulting in unnecessary disposal to landfill. Publicly available and new background soil data was collated by RMIT University for the purpose of developing improved methods for estimation of background concentrations in soils (methods described in Mikkonen et al. 2017). Ambient background concentrations are defined as the sum of the geogenic concentration of the element plus diffuse anthropogenic contamination that has been introduced from non-point sources. There is lack of consistency on what constitutes diffuse contamination or a point source. For the purpose of this research, ambient background concentrations include human contributions of contaminants through diffuse inputs such as atmospheric deposition of lead from the broad use of leaded fuels. However, lead impacts directly associated with an adjacent road (i.e. within 25 m of the road) were not considered representative of ambient background concentrations. Consistent with background studies undertaken across Europe, broad application of fertilisers during typical agricultural practices (excluding horticulture and application of biosolids), were considered representative of ambient background concentrations.