Plant Cover and Soil Biochemical Properties in a Mine Tailing Pond Five Years After Application of Marble Wastes and Organic Amendments

R. Zornoza, A. Faz, D. M. Carmona, S. Martínez-martínez, J. A. Acosta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in an indexed scientific journalpeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Tailing ponds pose environmental hazards, such as toxic metals which can contaminate the surroundings through wind and water erosions and leaching. Various chemical and biochemical properties, together with extractable and soluble metals were measured five years after reclamation of a polluted soil affected by former mining activities. This abandoned mine site contains large amounts of Fe-oxyhydroxides, sulphates, and heavy metals. As a consequence, soils remain bare and the soil organic matter content is low (< 3 g kg-1). Marble waste, pig manure and sewage sludge were applied in 2004. Plant cover and richness, and soil chemical, biochemical and biological parameters were analysed five years later. Results showed that all soil biochemical properties as well as vegetation cover and richness were higher in treated soils than in the untreated contaminated plots (control), although organic matter, pH values and extractable metals concentrations were similar among treatments. Soluble cadmium and zinc were lower in the amended plots than in control. As a general pattern, soil amended with pig manure showed higher values of most biochemical properties compared to sewage sludge application, while the doses did not have a great effect, being only significant for β-glucosidase, phosphodiesterase and arylsulfatase. Significant correlations were found between vegetation cover, richness and soil biochemical properties, suggesting a high interdependence between plant colonization and reactivation of biogeochemical cycles during five years. This study confirms the high effectiveness of an initial application of the amendments tested to initialize the recovery of ecosystems in bare mine soils under Mediterranean semiarid conditions. This research also shows the high sensitivity of certain biochemical properties in order to evaluate soil quality and reactivation of nutrients cycles in reclaimed mine soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
∗1Supported by the European Union FP7, and the Ministry of Science and Innovation of the Government of Spain. ∗2Corresponding author. E-mail: [email protected].


  • Hydrolase activities
  • Metal pollution
  • Microbial biomass
  • Organic amendments
  • Remediation


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