Temporal–Spatial Distributions and Influencing Factors of Heavy Metals As, Cd, Pb, and Zn in Alluvial Soils on a Regional Scale in Guangxi, ChinaMi Tian, Xueqiu Wang, Jian Zhou, Qinghua Chi, Dongsheng Liu, Yu Qiao, Chao Wu, Yining Zhou, Qiang Wang, Futian Liu
- Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
Understanding the temporal–spatial distribution and influencing factors of heavy metals on a regional scale is crucial for assessing the anthropogenic impacts and natural variations in elemental geochemical behavior. This study evaluated the spatial distributions of the heavy metals As, Cd, Pb, and Zn as well as the driving mechanisms over the past 31 years in Guangxi, China, using three geochemical baseline projects (the Environmental Geochemical Monitoring Network Project (EGMON) project 1992–1996; the Geochemical Baseline (CGB) 1 project 2008–2012; and the CGB2 project 2015–2019). By calculating the variable importance using the random forest algorithm, it was found that natural factors are the primary drivers of the spatial distribution of heavy metals in the EGMON project, especially precipitation for As, the digital elevation model (DEM) for Cd and Pb, and temperature for Zn. Surface alluvial soils showed obvious heavy metal enrichment in the CGB1 project, with the gross domestic product (GDP) driving the spatial distribution of all heavy metals. In addition, the anomalous intensity and range of heavy metals in the CGB2 project decreased significantly compared with the CGB1 project, especially owing to the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) as a positive anthropogenic factor that improves the degree of rocky desertification, thus reducing the heavy metal contents of As and Pb, and the precipitation promoting the decomposition of Fe–Mn concretions and thus the migration of Cd and Zn. This research promotes an understanding of anthropogenic and natural influences on the spatiotemporal distribution of heavy metals and is of great significance for environmental monitoring and governance.