Distribution, fractionation and sources of rare earth elements in suspended particulate matter in a tropical agricultural catchment, northeast Thailand

PeerJ. 2021 Feb 24:9:e10853. doi: 10.7717/peerj.10853. eCollection 2021.


Forty-eight suspended particulate matter (SPM) samples were collected from the Mun River, northeast Thailand and its junction with the Mekong River, to investigate the relationship between the distribution of rare earth elements (REE) in SPM and the soils in the watershed. The total REE contents (∑REE) in SPM in the Mun River ranged from 78.5 to 377.8 mg/kg with the average of 189.3 mg/kg, which was lower than ∑REE of 222.3 mg/kg at the Mekong River (one sample at junction). The Post Archean Australia Shale (PAAS)-normalized ratios of light REE (LREE), middle REE (MREE) and heavy REE (HREE) were averaged to 1.0, 1.3 and 1.0, which showed a clear enrichment in MREE. In short, along the Mun River, the REE contents in SPM were decreasing, and the PAAS-normalized patterns of REE showed gradually flat. The REE content in SPM and soils are highest in the upper catchment, indicating that soil/bedrock is the most important source of REE in SPM. Additionally, the positive Eu anomaly was enhanced by the higher Ca content in SPM (R = 0.45), which may be caused by more feldspars or carbonates with Ca and Eu substituting Ca. The results present the REE behaviors of SPM in the Mun River and relationship between REE in SPM and soil/bedrock, the findings may support the other studies in catchment weathering.

Keywords: Agricultural catchment; Mun River; Rare earth element; Suspended particulate matter; Thailand; Water/particle interaction.

Grants and funding

This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, grant numbers 41661144029 and 41325010, and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, grant number 2652019246. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.