Assessment of Heavy Metal Contamination in the Soils of the Gulf of Aqaba (Northwestern Saudi Arabia): Integration of Geochemical, Remote Sensing, GIS, and Statistical Data

Document Type


Source of Publication

Journal of Coastal Research

Publication Date



Ghrefat, H.; Zaman, H.; Batayneh, A.; El Waheidi, M.M.; Qaysi, S.; Al-Taani, A.; Jallouli, C., and Badhris, O., 2021. Assessment of heavy metal contamination in the soils of the Gulf of Aqaba (Northwestern Saudi Arabia): Integration of geochemical, remote sensing, GIS, and statistical data. Journal of Coastal Research, 37(4), 864872. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208. Rock and soil sample geochemical analysis was conducted to investigate the extent and causes of soil contamination in the Gulf of Aqaba region in NW Saudi Arabia. The inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry was used to determine the concentrations of Pb, Zn, Cu, Co, Cr, Mn, Fe, Hg, Mo, and Cd in 23 soil samples and 25 samples from granitic and Cenozoic marine sedimentary formations. The geochemical results have been integrated with remote sensing, GIS, and statistical analysis to assess the severity of soil pollution in the area. The concentrations of heavy metals (ppm) in the collected soil samples were as follows: Fe (2259.70), Mn (101.85), Zn (20.15), Pb (10.74), Cr (8.67), Cu (6.10), Co (1.35), Mo (0.69), Hg (0.30), and Cd (0.17). A significant variation in the mean metal concentrations was observed for the rock samples. The correlation analysis results showed that different degrees of positive and negative relationships exist among different metals in the area. Two factors (PC1 and PC2) were identified using the principal component analysis (PCA) and were responsible for about 60% of the total variance in the data. The studied metals were separated and classified into two factors based on their geochemical features and source. In contrast, the hierarchical cluster analysis grouped the identified metals into different groups based on the similarity of their characteristics. The principal component (PC2) applied to the Sentinel-2A image classified the land cover in the area into three classes: vegetation, barren rocks, and urban area. The enrichment factor shows a relatively higher percentage of enriched Mo; however, the indices of geo-accumulation and potential ecological risk generally reveal no substantial metallic contamination in the study area. The main sources of soil contamination with metals are rock-weathering processes and various agricultural works that are widely practiced in the area.




Coastal Education and Research Foundation






Life Sciences


Contamination, GIS, Gulf of Aqaba, Metals, Remote sensing, Soils

Scopus ID


Indexed in Scopus


Open Access