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Open-File Report 2005–1253
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Major- and Trace-Element Concentrations in Soils from Two Continental-Scale Transects of the United States and Canada

By David B. Smith1, William F. Cannon2, Laurel G. Woodruff3, Robert G. Garrett4, Rodney Klassen4, James E. Kilburn1, John D. Horton5, Harley D. King1, Martin B. Goldhaber1, and Jean M. Morrison1

thumbnail image of figure 1 in the report

This report contains major- and trace-element concentration data for soil samples collected from 265 sites along two continental-scale transects in North America. One of the transects extends from northern Manitoba to the United States-Mexico border near El Paso, Tex. and consists of 105 sites. The other transect approximately follows the 38th parallel from the Pacific coast of the United States near San Francisco, Calif., to the Atlantic coast along the Maryland shore and consists of 160 sites. Sampling sites were defined by first dividing each transect into approximately 40-km segments. For each segment, a 1-km-wide latitudinal strip was randomly selected; within each strip, a potential sample site was selected from the most representative landscape within the most common soil type. At one in four sites, duplicate samples were collected 10 meters apart to estimate local spatial variability. At each site, up to four separate soil samples were collected as follows: (1) material from 0-5 cm depth; (2) O horizon, if present; (3) a composite of the A horizon; and (4) C horizon. Each sample collected was analyzed for total major- and trace-element composition by the following methods: (1) inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry (ICPAES) for aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, bismuth, cadmium, calcium, cerium, cesium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gallium, indium, iron, lanthanum, lead, lithium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, niobium, phosphorus, potassium, rubidium, scandium, silver, sodium, strontium, sulfur, tellurium, thallium, thorium, tin, titanium, tungsten, uranium, vanadium, yttrium, and zinc; (2) cold vapor- atomic absorption spectrometry for mercury; (3) hydride generation-atomic absorption spectrometry for antimony and selenium; (4) coulometric titration for carbonate carbon; and (5) combustion for total carbon and total sulfur.

Version 1.0

Posted July 2005

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1U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado
2U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia
3U.S. Geological Survey, Mounds View, Minnesota
4Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
5Environmental Careers Organization, Reston, Virginia


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