Rock magnetic finger-printing of soil from a coal-fired thermal power plant

Minal Gune, B. G. Harshavardhana, K. Balakrishna, H. N. Udayashankar, R. Shankar, B. R. Manjunatha

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4 Citations (Scopus)


We present seasonal rock magnetic data for 48 surficial soil samples collected seasonally around a coal-fired thermal power plant on the southwest coast of India to demonstrate how fly ash from the power plant is transported both spatially and seasonally. Sampling was carried out during pre-monsoon (March), early-monsoon (June), monsoon (September) and post-monsoon (December) seasons. Low- and high-frequency magnetic susceptibility (χlf and χhf), frequency-dependent magnetic susceptibility (χfd), χfd %, isothermal remanent magnetization (IRM), “hard” IRM (HIRM), saturation IRM (SIRM) and inter-parametric ratios were determined for the samples. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used on limited number of samples. NOAA HYSPLIT MODEL backward trajectory analysis and principal component analysis were carried out on the data. Fly ash samples exhibit an average HIRM value (400.07 × 10−5 Am2 kg−1) that is comparable to that of soil samples. The pre- and post-monsoon samples show a consistent reduction in the concentration of magnetically “hard” minerals with increasing distance from the power plant. These data suggest that fly ash has indeed been transported from the power plant to the sampling locations. Hence, HIRM may perhaps be used as a proxy for tracking fly ash from coal-fired thermal power plants. Seasonal data show that the distribution of fly ash to the surrounding areas is minimum during monsoons. They also point to the dominance of SP magnetite in early-monsoon season, whereas magnetic depletion is documented in the monsoon season. This seasonal difference is attributable to both pedogenesis and anthropogenic activity i.e. operation of the thermal power plant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number272
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01-05-2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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