Based on the data derived from the geochemical survey of land quality in the Guyuan region, Ningxia, this study studied the background values of 30 elements (indicators) in the surface soil using mathematical statistics. This study compared the distribution and enrichment (or dilution) characteristics of elements in different parent materials (parent rocks) and land use types and further analyzed the factors restricting the distribution of the elements from the perspective of element association characteristics using the principal component analysis method. The results show that the contents of iron-philic element Ni, tungsten-philic element Mo, alkaline (earth) metal elements Na2O, MgO, CaO, halogen elements I, F, and copper-philic element As were all higher than corresponding national background values, while the contents of the biophilic elements such as Hg, Se, organic matter, N, and Pb were lower than corresponding national background values. Parent materials (parent rocks) were the main factor controlling the characteristics of element contents in soil. In the process of soil formation, natural and man-made influences have caused the enrichment or dilution of some elements. N, Mo, I, organic matter, and S are significantly controlled by the laterite parent material and their parent rocks, and the erosion of Ca2+ and Na+ causes weathering and leaching due to hydrodynamic effects. The element contents in the soil in the river valley plain were between those of laterite and those of loess parent material. In a supergene environment, Na2O, K2O, and Cl, which are prone to dissolve in water, are rich in estuaries and valleys due to hydrodynamic action. P, Hg, Se, and Mo elements are locally rich due to human interference. The factor analysis shows that parent materials (parent rocks), weathering, leaching, and bioaccumulation in the process of soil formation, and human production activities all affect the background values of the surface soil in the study area. The study results will provide basic geochemical information for the assessment of the regional resources and environment.
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