A multi-elemental study to establish the natural background and geochemical anomalies in rocks from the Sonora river upper basin, NW Mexico
Growing industrialization, including mining activity, dramatically increases environmental pollution. Exploitation of natural resources triggers landscape alteration, inputs of potentially toxic chemical elements to the environment and health diseases. In the case of mining activity, the measure of any associated environmental disturbance requires a geochemical background as a reference frame. Since in Mexico, there is a lack of this type of references in mining districts, the present study took a recent mining spill as an opportunity to establish the geochemical background of the upper Sonora river basin, which includes active and historical mining areas. The weighted average of elemental values was calculated using GIS tools. The data show that rocks have a similar geochemical behavior, which is characterized by pristine enrichment of Mn, Ca, P, Ba, Zn, As, Ag, Sb, W, Pb and Bi relative to the upper continental crust. Coefficients of variation values reveal that Sc, Y, Zr, Ce, Yb, Fe, Ti and Al display a conservative behavior and, therefore, they are recommended to be used as reference elements in environmental studies in the basin. The findings of this work highlight the need of determining the geochemical background in mining regions to reach more realistic environmental assessments.