Chemical remediation of an agricultural soil: a case study of the tsunami-affected area of Chile

Water Air Soil Pollut 224:6 (2013).

DOI: 10.1007/s11270-013-1590-5


The present study consisted of an in vitro experiment based on columns to restore a soil affected by the tsunami of 27 February 2010 that struck the Coliumo District, Bio-Bio region, Chile. The agricultural productivity of many coastal lands was severely affected, rendering them unfit for crop production. Composite soil samples were taken at 0 to 20 cm soil depth in Coliumo, Bio-Bio region. The initial physical and chemical analysis showed textural changes, low pH, high levels of electrical conductivity (EC), sodium (Na+), and sulfate (SO4 2−), whereas bioassay tests showed severe toxicity for lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) seeds. Germination index (GI), length of hypocotyl (LH), and length of radicle (LR) were used as indicators in the bioassay tests. Two different treatments were used: T1 = soil amended with 7.7 t ha−1 of limestone (CaCO3) and T2 = soil amended with 7.7 t ha−1 of gypsum (CaSO4). A control treatment (T0) with unamended soil was included. Each treatment received a total of 1,100 mm of clean water (4 water loads, 275 mm each), which was equivalent to the mean annual precipitation of the area studied. The T2 treatment produced a significant decrease in the concentration of Na+ (8.27 to 0.16 meq L−1), decreased EC (1.58 to 0.03 dS m−1), and increased pH from 4.83 to 6.27 in the soil under study. Leaching of Na+ and SO4 2− with successive water loads was effective in the soil. The bioindicators as GI, LH and LR revealed that T2 was more effective than T1 and control in removing Na and SO4 analytes from the soil matrix. The CaSO4 amendment showed good potential for seed development, but further research on plant growth to maturity is required to determine yield parameters in the affected area.

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