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Dissolved and particulate trace metal geochemistry in the Scheldt estuary, S.W. Netherlands (water column and sediments)
Zwolsman, J.J.G.; van Eck, G.Th.M. (1993). Dissolved and particulate trace metal geochemistry in the Scheldt estuary, S.W. Netherlands (water column and sediments). Neth. J. Aquat. Ecol. 27(2-4): 287-300.
Also appears in:
Meire, P.; Vincx, M. (Ed.) (1993). Marine and estuarine gradients: ECSA 21: Proceedings of the 21st symposium of the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association held in Gent, 9-14 september 1991. Netherlands Journal of Aquatic Ecology, 27(2-4). Netherlands Society of Aquatic Ecology: Bilthoven. 496 pp., more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Marine/Coastal; Brackish water

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  • Zwolsman, J.J.G., more
  • van Eck, G.Th.M., more

    The geochemistry of dissolved and particulate trace metals has been studied in the water column and the sediments of the Scheldt estuary between 1987 and 1990. A strong seasonal influence on the behaviour af dissolved Cd, Cu and Zn is observed, related to the redox conditions in the upper estuary and phyto- plankton activity in the lower estuary (which are both seasonally dependent variables). The dissolved trace metal concentrations in the fresh water end-member are remarkably low during spring and summer, due to metal sulphide precipitation in the anoxic Scheldt river. However, the dissolved concentrations increase rapidly with increasing salinity, due to oxidation of metal sulphides that are present in the suspended matter, accompanied by (e.g. chloro-complexation of the released metals. Reabsorption of Cd and Zn occurs in the lower estuary during the spring phytoplankton bloom. During winter, when the Scheldt river is not completely anoxic, much higher dissolved trace metal concentrations are observed in the fresh water end-member since metal sulphide precipitation in the water column is precluded. Rapid trace metal removal is observed in the low salinity, high turbidity zone, due to absorption onto suspended matter and freshly precipitated iron and manganese oxyhydroxides. Upon further mixing, desorption is apparent, due to a similar oxidation-complexation mechanism as observed during spring and summer. Pore water infusion may also contribute to the enrichment of dissolved Cd, Cu and Zn in the mid-estuarine region. The trace metal contents of the suspended matter and the sediments show a continuous decrease with increasing salinity. This behaviour is to a very large extent due to physical mixing of contaminated fluvial particulates and relatively unpolluted marine particulates. Desorption of Cd, Cu and Zn can be identified but is of minor importance compared to the conservative mixing process. The distribution of dissolved Cd, Cu and Zn in the pore waters of the mid-estuarine region reflects the impact of early diagenetic processes. Trace metal peaks are observed near the sediment-water interface, and at greater depth in the manganese and iron reduction zones. These peaks are attributed to oxidation of reduced trace metal compounds (e.g. sulphides) and reduction of the (iron and manganese) oxide carrier phases, respectively. At greater depth, the dissolved trace metal concentrations are much lower due to metal sulphide precipitation in the sulphate reduction zone. Analysis of a large sediment dataset indicates severe trace metal pollution of the Scheldt estuary at the end of the fifties. A major reduction of the pollution by As, Cr, Hg, Pb, and Zn has occurred in the seventies, and of Cd and Cu in the eighties. The Ni pollution has increased over the time period considered. In spite of this improvement, the present-day pollution status of the Scheldt estuary is still reason for concern.

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