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A contribution to IUGS/IAGC Global Geochemical Baselines

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Introduction

R. Salminen1, A. Demetriades2, and S. Reeder3

1Geological Survey of Finland, Espoo, Finland
2Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration, Athens, Greece
3British Geological Survey, Keyworth, UK

General Background

The FOREGS Geochemical Baseline Mapping Programme's main aim is to provide high quality, multi-purpose environmental geochemical baseline data for Europe. The need for this type of data was justified by the first Working Group on Regional Geochemical Mapping immediately after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, when it was realised that a baseline for radioactive and other polluting elements could not be defined (Bølviken et al. 1990, 1993, 1996). Subsequent compilation of inventories of existing regional geochemical databases in Europe revealed the existence of some 120 separate geochemical databases based on up to seven different sample media. Although a wide range of element concentrations were determined by 13 different analytical methods, many environmentally essential elements were, however, not measured. (Plant and Ridgeway, 1990; Plant et al. 1996, 1997). Because it was impossible to compile a homogeneous data set for the whole of Europe from these data, it was clear that the establishment of a harmonised European wide geochemical database was essential. This database could then be used for levelling older national geochemical databases in order to produce more detailed European wide maps to satisfy the needs of present day national and European Union legislation. Plant et al. (1997) made the case thus:

"Throughout Europe public concern about the environment is growing. In response, national governments and the European Union (EU) are attempting to develop policies, legislation and infrastructure, such as the European Environment Agency (EEA). Attempts are also being made to establish 'Safe Levels' of Potentially Harmful Elements and Species (PHES), but these are often based on limited and/or inadequate information.
Throughout Europe public concern about the environment is growing. In response, national governments and the European Union (EU) are attempting to develop policies, legislation and infrastructure, such as the European Environment Agency (EEA). Attempts are also being made to establish 'Safe Levels' of Potentially Harmful Elements and Species (PHES), but these are often based on limited and/or inadequate information.
At the present time, knowledge of the geochemistry of the surface environment of Europe is based on different surveys of variable standards carried out by different organizations in the public and private sectors. Whilst there are exceptions, Geological Surveys have, in the past, provided data on rock and stream sediments; soil surveys on soils; hydrological surveys on ground and surface water and biologists/agriculturists on plant and animal tissue samples.
In general, there is a failure to recognise that the natural geochemical background is highly variable and the natural levels of PHEs (such as As, Cd, Pb, NO3-, the radioactive elements and organic pollutants) can be as high or higher than those caused by man-made sources of pollution. Even where synthetic pollutants are concerned, it is the natural geology and geochemistry which frequently exert the fundamental controls on the distribution of the PHEs and consequently determine their potential to create hazards."

The IUGS/IAGC Global Geochemical Baselines Programme aims to establish a global geochemical reference baseline for >60 determinants in a range of media for environmental and other applications. The European contribution to the programme has been carried out by government institutions from 26 countries under the auspices of the former Forum of European Geological Surveys (FOREGS). This activity is now transferred to EuroGeoSurveys, the Association of the European Geological Surveys in which FOREGS is merged. The main objectives of this European survey were: 1) to apply standardised methods of sampling, chemical analysis and data management to prepare a geochemical baseline across Europe; and 2) to use this reference network to level national baseline datasets.

Data on geochemical baselines are urgently needed in Europe, because environmental authorities in most countries are defining limits for contaminants in soils for different land use purposes. At the same time, the Commission of the European Union (EU) is preparing the Soil Protection Directive. As geochemists know, the natural concentrations of elements are different in the different constituents of overburden, and vary zmarkedly between geologically disparate areas. State authorities, however, are not always aware of these significant natural variations, which should be taken into account in defining action limits. There are already examples of action limits that are lower than natural concentrations.

The data produced by the FOREGS Geochemical Baseline Mapping programme should make a significant contribution to the EU Soil Protection Directive, especially as a basis for defining action limits. Older national geochemical data sets in Europe, as it has already been pointed out (Plant and Ridgeway 1990; Plant et al. 1996, 1997), are not in a form that can be readily used for this purpose. It is not possible to define the present day European geochemical baseline for a single element on the basis of old geochemical data.

Systematic baseline environmental geochemical data are necessary to inform policy makers and to provide a sound basis for legislation. According to Plant et al. (1996), for this purpose such data are required to be:

  1. Standardised across national boundaries.
  2. Available in digital form for use in GIS so that they can be viewed interactively with other datasets, such as those for land use and for animal and human morbidity and mortality data.
  3. Comprehensive, to include the majority of PHEs and ideally as many harmful chemical species as possible, including synthetic compounds.
  4. Based on a full suite of sample types including soil, stream sediment, surface water, groundwater and off-shore marine and estuarine sediment in the coastal zone.

The report by Plant et al. (1996) also gives reasons why Geological Surveys, or equivalent governmental institutions, are particularly well suited to provide the data needed to establish systematic environmental geochemical baseline databases for Europe.

In Europe, the geochemical results of the Global Terrestrial Network sampling (GTN) - also called the Global Reference Network (GRN) - as recommended by the UNESCO International Geological Correlation Programmes IGCP 259, "International Geochemical Mapping", and its successor, IGCP 360, "Global Geochemical Baselines" (Darnley et al. 1995), will be used as a reference to normalise national baseline datasets in Europe.

The FOREGS programme is also the European contribution, and a practical example, to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) - International Association of Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry (IAGC) Working Group on "Global Geochemical Baselines".

The FOREGS Geochemical Baseline Mapping Programme was approved in 1996 by the Forum of European Geological Surveys' Directors (FOREGS). In 1996, the Working Group representatives were nominated by each country and by the end of 1997 the principles of field and analytical methodologies were agreed. The field methodology was subsequently tested and modified during a practical field course in the Slovak Republic in June 1997, and the "FOREGS Geochemical Field Manual" was published in 1998 (Salminen, Tarvainen et al. 1998).

The geochemical data are based on the analysis of samples of stream water, stream sediment, floodplain sediment (or alluvial soil), residual soil, and humus collected from 26 European countries. High quality and consistency of the data were ensured by using standardised sampling methods (Salminen, Tarvainen et al. 1998), and by applying rigorous, harmonised quality assurance measures during chemical analysis and subsequent data handling stages.

Sampling Media

The choice of sampling media has been made in accordance with the recommendations of the IUGS/IAGC Working Group on Global Geochemical Baselines (Darnley et al. 1995). These media, described below, are considered to be the most representative of the Earth's surface environment, and are the most commonly used in past and current environmental geochemical investigations:

  • Stream water (filtered and unfiltered);
  • Stream sediment - mineral sediment (<0.150 mm);
  • Residual soil - upper 0-25 cm horizon (topsoil) without the top organic layer (<2 mm);
  • Residual soil - lower (C) horizon (subsoil); a 25 cm layer within a depth range of 50-200 cm (<2 mm);
  • Humus (where present);
  • Overbank sediment - upper 0-25 cm horizon (<0.150 mm, optional);
  • Overbank sediment - bottom layer (<0.150 mm, optional);
  • Floodplain sediment - upper 0-25 cm horizon (<2 mm), and
  • Floodplain sediment - bottom layer (<2 mm, optional).

Stream and floodplain sediment samples generally reflect the average geogenic composition of a catchment basin for most elements, although they are sensitive to pollution. Since most national Geological Surveys have undertaken national stream sediment studies, the FOREGS stream sediment baseline data will be used to level these more detailed national datasets, and to link the results across Europe.

Stream waters reflect the interplay between geosphere/hydrosphere and pollution. At the same time, they can be a major source of drinking water. Many surveys have completed local studies, so the FOREGS data can be used to link results across Europe.

Soil samples reflect variations in the geogenic composition of the uppermost layers of the Earth's crust. Because of this, it was important to avoid soil sampling at locations that had visible or known contamination. Priority for site selection was given to:

  1. forested and unused lands;
  2. greenland and pastures; and
  3. non-cultivated parts of agricultural land (in very special cases, where residual soil could not be found).

Comparison of topsoil and subsoil data gives information about enrichment or depletion processes between the layers. One such process is anthropogenic contamination of the top layer. The <2 mm fraction was taken according to environmental standards. The <0.18 mm and finer fractions have been widely used in mineral exploration programmes, and the FOREGS data will be used to create a link between environmental and mineral exploration databases.

Humus samples can be used to determine the atmospheric (anthropogenic) input of elements to the ecosystem. To reach this aim, samples were collected in forested areas as near as possible to the residual soil sampling sites. To reflect the atmospheric input, the uppermost few centimetres of the organic layer were collected immediately under the green vegetation and litter (max. 3 cm).

GTN sampling locations were totally randomised, and are not designed to show the lowest natural background concentrations in the European environment, but to demonstrate the geochemistry of the surface environment at the end of the 20th century.

Organisation and Time Frame of the Programme

The work was carried out by the FOREGS Geochemistry Working Group. To this group belonged representatives of the following 26 European countries (see table at end of chapter). An executive group was nominated to lead different activities as described below:

Executive group

ChairProf. R Salminen (Finland)
SecretaryMs Fiona Fordyce (UK) 1996-1998
Ms Lorraine Williams (UK) 1998-1999
Mr S Reeder (UK) 2000-

Co-ordinating Committees:

Sample Preparation & StorageDr K Marsina (Slovak Republic)
AnalyticalDr H Sandström (Finland)
Data Management Dr T Tarvainen (Finland)
PublishingDr P Klein (Austria)
Scientific Interpretation Prof. J Plant (UK) 1996-2004
Dr W De Vos (Belgium) 2004-
Public Relations
(including public understanding of science)
Mr A Demetriades (Greece)
GIS and background dataLorraine Williams (UK) 1998-1999

Work started with the preparation of the Field Manual (Salminen, Tarvainen et al 1998), which was accepted by each participating country. The sampling was carried out as national projects by the geological institutions of the FOREGS countries. Sampling started in 1998 and was completed in November 2001.

Nine laboratories from participating Geological Surveys were selected to carry out the analysis. In order to ensure the homogeneity of the data and to avoid any bias between laboratories or analytical methods, each laboratory was nominated to take responsibility for carrying out analysis by a particular analytical technique or techniques on all samples of a certain type. Analytical work was carried out from 1999 to 2003. All applied methods are described in detail in the analytical manual (see chapter on Analysis). A sample archive was established in the Slovak Republic and samples will be available for future analysis at the discretion of the FOREGS Geochemistry working group.

The Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) coordinated the sampling, analytical work and data management. GTK provided detailed sampling instructions (also on web pages), sent all maps of random sampling sites within GTN cells, created the project database, and gave further information whenever needed.

References

Bølviken, B., Demetriades, A., Hindel, R., Locutura, J., O'Connor, P., Ottesen, R.T., Plant, J. Ridgeway, J., Salminen, R., Salpeteur, I., Schermann, O. & Volden, T. (eds.), 1990. Geochemical Mapping of Western Europe towards the Year 2000. Project proposal. NGU Report 90-106, 12 pp. and 9 app.

Bølviken B., Bogen J., De Vos W., Ebbing J., Hindel R., Ottesen R.T., Salminen R., Schermann O., & Swennen R., 1993. Final report of the Working Group on Regional Geochemical Mapping 1986-1993. Forum of European Geological Surveys (FORGES). Geological Survey of Norway (NGU) Open File Report 93.092.

Bölviken, B. Bogen, J., Demetriades, A., De Vos, W., Ebbing, J., Hindel, R., Langedal, M., Locutura, J., O'Connor, P., Ottesen, R.T., Pulkkinen, E., Salminen, R., Scherman, O., Swennen, R., Van der Sluys, J. & Volden, T., 1996. Regional geochemical mapping of Western Europe towards the year 2000. Journal of Geochemical Exploration 56, 141-166. Elsevier Science Publishers, Amsterdam.

Darnley, A.G., Björklund, A., Bölviken, B., Gustavsson, N., Koval, P.V., Plant, J.A., Steenfelt, A., Tauchid, M., & Xie Xuejing,, 1995. A Global geochemical database for environmental and resource management. Final report of IGCP Project 259. Earth Scinences 19, UNESCO publishing, 122 pp.

Plant J.A. & Ridgeway, J.M., 1990. Inventory of geochemical surveys of western Europe; appendix report 10: In: Western European Geological Surveys, Working Group on Regional Geochemical Mapping; Geochemical Mapping of Europe towards the Year 2000, pilot project report. Norwegian Geological survey, NGU report 90/105. 20 pp.

Plant, J.A., Klaver, G., Locutura, J., Salminen, R., Vrana, K. & Fordyce, F.M., 1996. Forum of European Geological Surveys (FOREGS) Geochemistry Task Group 1994-1996 Report. British Geological Survey (BGS) Technical Report WP/95/14. 52 pp.

Plant, J.A., Klaver, G., Locutura, J., Salminen, R., Vrana, K. & Fordyce, F., 1997. The Forum of European Geological Surveys Geochemistry Task Group inventory 1994-1996. Journal of Geochemical Exploration 59, 123-146.

Salminen, R., Tarvainen, T., Demetriades, A., Duris, M., Fordyce, F. M., Gregorauskiene, V., Kahelin, H., Kivisilla, J., Klaver, G., Klein, P., Larson, J. O., Lis, J., Locutura, J., Marsina, K., Mjartanova, H., Mouvet, C., O'Connor, P., Odor, L., Ottonello, G., Paukola, T., Plant, J. A., Reimann, C., Schermann, O., Siewers, U., Steenfelt, A., Van der Sluys, J., Vivo, B. de, & Williams, L., 1998. FOREGS geochemical mapping field manual. Geological Survey of Finland, Guide 47, 36 pp.


The work was carried out by the FOREGS Geochemistry Working Group. To this group belonged representatives of the following 26 European countries:

Austria
Peter Klein
Geologische Bundesanstalt
Wien
Austria

Albania
Mazreku Agim
Centre of Civil Geology
Tirana
Albania

Belgium
Jan Van der Sluys 1996-2000
Walter De Vos 2000-
Geological Survey of Belgium
Brussels
Belgium

Croatia
Josip Halamic
Institute of Geology
Zagreb
Croatia

Czech Republic
Miloslav Duris 1996-2002
Jana Svecova/Mrnkova 2002-
Czech Geological Survey
Praha
Czech Republic

Denmark
Agnete Steenfelt
Danmarks og Grönlands
Geologiske Undersögelse
Copenhagen
Denmark

Estonia
Jaan Kivisilla 1996-2001
Valter Petersell 2001-
Eesti Geolookiakeskus
Tallinn
Estonia

Finland
Reijo Salminen
Geologian tutkimuskeskus
Espoo
Finland

France
Ignace Salpeteur
BRGM/REM/VADO
Orléans Cedex
France

Germany
Ulrich Siewers
Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe
Hanover
Germany

Greece
Alecos Demetriades
Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration
Athens
Greece

Hungary
Lazlo Odor 1996-1999
Gyozo Jordan 1999-
Magyar Allami Földtani Intézet
Budapest
Hungary

Ireland
Patrick J O'Connor
Geological Survey of Ireland
Dublin
Ireland

Italy
Benedetto De Vivo and
Annamaria Lima
Universita' di Napoli "Federico II"
Napoli
Italy

Pietro Frizzo
University of Padova
Padova
Italy

Giuseppe Sabatini
Universitā degli Studi di Siena
Siena
Italy

Latvia
Aivars Gilucis
State Geological Survey
Riga
Latvia

Lithuania
Virgilija Gregorauskiene
Lietuvos Geologijos Tarnyba
Vilnius
Lithuania

The Netherlands
Gerard Klaver 1996-1998 and 2001-
Nicolaj Walraven 1999-2000
TNO-NITG
Utrecht
The Netherlands

Norway
Clemens Reimann 1996-1998
Rolf Tore Ottesen 1998-
Geological Survey of Norway
Trondheim
Norway

Poland
Jozef Lis
Anna Pasieczna
Panstwowy Instytut Geologiczny
Warszawa
Poland

Portugal
Luis Martins
Maria Joao Batista
Instituto Geolķgico e Mineiro
Estrada da Portela - Zambujal
Alfragide
Portugal

Slovak Republic
Karol Marsina
Geological Survey of Slovak Republic
Bratislava
Slovak Republic

Slovenia
Milan Bidovec
Geological Survey of Slovenia
Ljubljana
Slovenia

Spain
Juan Locutura
Instituto Geologico y Minero de Espána
Madrid
Spain

Sweden
Sten Åke Olsson
Sveriges Geologiske Undersökelse
Uppsala
Sweden

Switzerland
Peter Heitzmann
Swiss National Hydrological and Geological Survey
Berne
Switzerland

UK
Jane Plant 1996-
Shaun Reeder 2000-
British Geological Survey
Nottingham
United Kingdom

In addition to the country representatives listed above, the following persons have participated in the activities of the programme in its different phases:

Prof. Simon Pirc
University of Ljubljana
Ljubljana Slovenia

Dr Otmar Sherman
Geologische Bundesanstalt
Wien
Austria

Prof. Manuel Pinto
University of Aveiro
Aveiro
Portugal

Dr David Smith
U.S. Geological Survey

Dr Arthur Darnley
Geological Survey of Canada

National teams:

Finland:

T. Moisio
Geologian tutkimuskeskus
Espoo
Finland

Germany:

M. Birke, W. Kantor
Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften
und Rohstoffe
Hannover
Germany

Italy:

B. De Vivo
A. Lima
S. Albanese,
M. Boni,
D. Cicchella,
P. Frattini,
A. Iachetta,
F. Malanga
R. Somma and
M. Tarzia
Universita' di Napoli Federico II
Italy

G. Sabatini,
A. Di Lella,
G. Protano and
F. Riccobono
University of Siena
Italy

P.Frizzo and
L. Raccagni
University of Padova
Italy

M. Zuccolini
University of Genova
Italy

Portugal:

E.Pereira
B.Barbosa and
D.Rosa
Instituto Geolķgico e Mineiro
Estrada da Portela - Zambujal
Alfragide
Portugal

Slovak Republic:

J. Čurlík,
P. Šefčík,
S. Rapant,
I. Slaninka and
K. Marsina
Geological Survey of Slovak Republic
Bratislava
Slovak Republic

UK

D. Flight,
F. Fordyce,
J. Freeman,
K. Denton,
R. Staines,
J. Hirst,
J. Inglis,
A. Kellagher and
A. Kirk,
British Geological Survey Keyworth Nottingham UK

Laboratory teams:

Finland:

E. Kallio and
M-L. Hagel-Brunnström
Geologian tutkimuskeskus
Espoo
Finland

France:

A. Batel
Service Geologique National,
Orleans-Cedex
France

Germany:

U. Siewers,
Hans Lorenz,
Frank Korte,
Wolfgang Glatte and
Jürgen Rausch
Bundesanstalt fûr Geowissenschaften
Hannover
Germany

Hungary:

A. Bartha and
Zs. Varga-Barna
Geological Survey of Hungary
Budapest
Hungary

The Netherlands:

E. van Vilsteren,
B. van Os and
G. Klaver
Netherlands Institute of Applied Geoscience TNO-National Geological Survey, NITG
Utrecht
The Netherlands

Norway:

A. Grimstvedt,
B. Davidsen,
M. Ødegård and
F. Berge
Norges Geologiske Undersøkelse
Trondheim
Norway

Poland:

P. Paslawski and
E. Popiolek
Polish Geological Institute
Warszawa
Poland

Slovak Republic:

H. Mjartanova,
D. Mackovũch
P. Lučivjanskũ
F. Cvengroš
Geological Survey of Slovak Republic
Bratislava
Slovak Republic

UK

S Reeder,
B.D. Charlton,
P.A. Blackwell,
M.R. Cave,
M.N. Ingham,
C J.B. Gowing,
S.J. Carter,
N.D. Eatherington,
L.D. Grimsley and
J. Wragg
British Geological Survey Keyworth
Nottingham
UK

Data processing teams:

Finland:

C. Ahlsved,
N. Gustavsson,
H. Sandström,
T. Tarvainen,
E. Lampio,
H. Savolainen and
S. Luoma
Geologian tutkimuskeskus
Espoo
Finland

France:

I. Salpeteur
Service Geologique National
Orleans-Cedex
France

Germany:

U. Siewers
Bundesanstalt fûr Geowissenschaften,
Hannover
Germany

Italy:

A. Lima and
S. Albanese
Universita' di Napoli Federico II
Napoli
Italy

M. Vetuschi Zuccolini
Universitā di Genova
Genova
Italy

Spain:

A. Bel-Ian and
J. Locutura
Instituto Geologico y Minero de Espána
Madrid
Spain

Sweden:

S-Å Olsson
Sveriges Geologisk Undersökelse
Uppsala
Sweden

UK

S. Reeder and
B. Lister
British Geological Survey
Keyworth
Nottingham
UK

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